Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 07:09 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Malta

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Malta, 2004, available at: [accessed 26 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Republic of Malta

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 393,000 (93,000 under 18)
Government armed forces: 2,140
Compulsory recruitment age: not applicable
Voluntary recruitment age: 17½
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 9 May 2002
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II, ICC, ILO 138, ILO 182

There was no evidence of under-18s being recruited into the armed forces.


The automatic and excessively lengthy detention of asylum seekers and migrants, in conditions which fell short of international standards, was criticized by UNHCR and the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights.1 A group of over 200 Eritreans, including asylum seekers, deported in October 2002 were reportedly arrested and detained incommunicado on arrival in Eritrea. Some may have been released soon afterwards but the remainder were alleged to have remained in secret detention and to have been tortured; at least one was reportedly shot dead.2


National recruitment legislation and practice

The constitution states that "Malta is a neutral state ... adhering to a policy of non-alignment and refusing to participate in any military alliance".3 According to the Malta Armed Forces Act, "It shall be lawful for the President of Malta to raise by voluntary enlistment and maintain an armed force". According to Title II, Chapter 220, it is not permissible to recruit a person under the appropriate minimum age to the armed forces without parental consent, or the consent of another appropriate person. The minimum age is defined as 17 years and 6 months.4 There has been no compulsory military service in Malta since the Second World War.

The armed forces consist of an infantry unit, air defence and a small naval unit. The police are responsible for internal security, with the support of the armed forces.5 Malta has a defence agreement with Italy.6


International standards

Malta ratified the Optional Protocol on 9 May 2002. In its accompanying declaration, Malta noted that recruits must present their official birth certificate when applying to join the armed forces and that the term of engagement of recruits under 18 must be renewed when they reach the age of 18. The declaration stated that in practice the armed forces had not recruited under-18s since 1970 and that, if they were in future recruited, they would not take part in hostilities.7

1 Amnesty International Report 2004, http://web.

2 UNHCR, UNHCR Position on Return of Rejected Asylum Seekers to Eritrea, January 2004.

3 Constitution, at Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs,

4 Malta Armed Forces Act (of 22 September 1970, last amended by Act XV of 2002), Part II, Title II, 3 and 4, at Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs, op. cit.

5 US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2003, February 2004,

6 Government information centre on membership of European Union,

7 Declarations and reservations to the Optional Protocol,

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