There were 12 migrants arraigned in court this morning for forged immigration documents or passport fraud.
The group, majority of which lived in Ħal Far’s closed centre, were caught attempting to fly to Bergamo and Bologna, Italy and were arrested in Malta’s airport.
Nine of the accused were from Sudan, two from the Ivory Coast and the other from Pakistan.
Figures of people attempting to enter and leave Malta with false identification documents have tripled in the last year. In fact, 159 people were caught with forged IDs in 2019, a significant jump from just 62 charged in court in 2018.
Meanwhile, police believe that a ring of criminals producing illicit immigration documents in West Africa may be behind a surge in arrests, which grew once Malta’s borders reopened after COVID-19 lockdown.
In fact, 67 have been arrested for the crime in the first half of this year.
While the circumstances of each arrest are unclear, what is certain is that as the number of migrant arrivals continues to grow, it is an increasingly common phenomenon with asylum seekers, particularly with minors.
Last year, 25 underage people were caught trying to flee, with another 13 found in 2020.
With over 1,500 asylum applications still pending, the massive caseload may incentivise some to try leave illegally.
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