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School of Law

Nicolette Busuttil


PhD Student



Thesis title

To protect, tolerate or expel? International protection obligations towards migrants with psychosocial disabilities facing removal (working title).


Dr Violeta Moreno-Lax and Professor Elspeth Guild

Summary of research

This dissertation focuses on migrants with mental healthcare needs in EU Member States who are at risk of removal to a State where mental healthcare is unavailable or falls short of established human rights standards. It explores a disability-sensitive interpretation of non-refoulement by reference to the impact of the UN Convention of the Rights of Disabilities on EU Member States’ obligations towards these individuals with a view to identifying whether any such protection merely entails an exemption from deportation or whether it gives rise to an individual claim to a complementary protection status, including ancillary rights to stay regularly on the territory.

The project uses a legal-doctrinal methodology, drawing on a multi-disciplinary approach, combining knowledge from different legal branches (International Human Rights law, International Refugee and Migration Law, EU law) together with forced migration studies, public policy and mental health research.


Prior to her doctoral research, Nicolette completed a Master of Laws in Immigration Law at Queen Mary University of London, as well as Doctor of Laws (LLD) and Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degrees at the University of Malta.

She is a warranted advocate in Malta, where she was admitted to the Bar of Malta, and worked as a lawyer at the Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta) providing legal assistance to refugees and other forcibly displaced migrants. Nicolette was involved in advising and representing individuals at all stages of the asylum determination procedure and formed part of the team engaging in strategic litigation before the European Court of Human Rights to challenge Malta’s detention policy and matters of collective expulsion from the territory.  

She retains a keen research interest in intersection of migration and mental health issues, as well as on asylum and migration issues in the Southern Mediterranean. 


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