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Malta

  • 1. GENERAL INFORMATION

    The government of Malta has attempted to combat human trafficking through several initiatives, including the development of victim assistance services, training of government officials, and raising of public awareness.

    Malta has experienced a limited number of cases of human trafficking, all of which involved the sexual exploitation of women. The victims were mainly third-country nationals from Eastern Europe, including in particular Russia and the Ukraine, who had entered Malta through legal channels. Only one case involved the sexual exploitation of an EU national. The cases encountered so far did not involve organised crime networks.

    No new cases of human trafficking were encountered during 2009 and 2010, although a new case has been brought before the Courts this year.

    In view of the limited number of cases encountered so far, particularly during the last three years, it is difficult to extrapolate any particular trends.

    One new TIP case was registered in Malta in 2011: 4 persons were accused, 2 Maltese nationals and another 2 from Romania. There were 3 identified victims from Romania who were recruited while they were on holiday in Greece. This case follows previous registered trends experienced in Malta, which is trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

    The United States TIP report published in June 2012 rated Malta in Tier 2, up from the Tier 2 (Watchlist) rating of the previous reports. Whilst making recommendations in relation to further actions, the report also notes that significant progress has been registered by the Maltese authorities in the sphere of human trafficking.

    Since February 2012, 2 cases of human trafficking were encountered.

    One case involved trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation. It concerned Chinese nationals working in a massage parlour and in a restaurant and resulted in the identification of 3 victims, 2 males and 1 female.  All victims were being employed irregularly and under poor working conditions.  The female was also being asked to provide sexual services to clients.  This case was discovered during ad hoc inspection by the Police unit responsible for prostitution and trafficking. The alleged perpetrator is a Chinese National.

    The other case was of a Pilipino young woman who was being employed by a foreign family in Malta. The victim communicated with an NGO through her laptop, the social welfare agency was alerted and the victim was helped to flea the house. The victim has a valid passport and visa therefore she can stay in the country.  So far, the victim has not yet taken a decision to take the case further to the police and thus report her employers.

    In terms of new cases of THB, 1 new case was encountered by the Police and brought before the court in February 2013 for charges of human trafficking.  This is being considered as an internal trafficking case since the perpetrator and the victim are both Maltese Nationals. It is the first case of its kind in Malta.

     

    A summary of this text is available in the official language of the country.

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  • 2. INSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK

    Legislation

    All forms of trafficking are prohibited by the Criminal Code (Chap. 9). Following Malta’s commitment to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Act III (entitled Of The Traffic of Persons) was introduced in the Criminal Code in 2002.

    Nonetheless, trafficking in persons from Malta for the purposes of prostitution was already a criminal offence under the White Slaves Traffic (Suppression) Ordinance (Chap. 63). The White Slave Traffic (Suppression) Ordinance transposed the 1904 International Agreement for the Suppression of White Slave Traffic into national law, which was subsequently amended by the Protocol approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 3 December 1948.

    Sentences for human trafficking range from two to nine years' imprisonment. However, in cases of trafficking for the removal of organs the sentence is imprisonment for a term of between four and twelve years. Sentences are increased by one degree where the victim is a minor. The prescribed penalties are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes.

    Additionally, the crime of trafficking in persons is also dealt with under the Title of the Maltese Criminal Code focusing on Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes and the Title addressing Crimes Against the Peace and Honour of Families and Against Morals.

    Subsidiary Legislation (S.L. 217/07) transposing Council Directive 2004/81/EC (on the residence permit issued to third country nationals who are victims of trafficking of human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration) was passed in 2007. This legislation provides for giving victims of trafficking or illegal immigrants who cooperate with the Maltese authorities permission to reside in Malta for a period of six months (renewable).This legislation also provides for a reflection period of up to two months, prior to the granting of the six-month residence permit.


    National strategy/National Action Plan

    Malta has not adopted a National Action Plan or strategy to combat trafficking in human beings.


    Coordination of anti-trafficking actions on national level

    A national contact point within the Malta Police Force liaises with all other stakeholders on matters related to trafficking in human beings. The national contact point makes the necessary referrals to other entities in the course of investigations.


    National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanisms

    A National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanism has not been established in Malta.

    A national contact point within the Malta Police Force liaises with all other stakeholders on matters related to trafficking in human beings.

  • 3. IMPLEMENTATION OF ANTI-TRAFFICKING POLICY

    Prevention

    Efforts to prevent human trafficking in Malta have mainly focused on awareness-raising campaigns and training activities.

    In 2008, the Social Welfare Services Agency (Aġenzija Appoġġ, below called the social welfare agency) and the Ministry for Justice and Home Affairs jointly produced a detailed brochure to raise awareness about human trafficking. It included information about identifying potential victims and where to find assistance. The brochures were distributed at health clinics, community centres, and churches among other locations. They were also distributed in entertainment areas to target potential sexually exploited victims and sex clientele.  In January 2009, 60 police officers were trained in the identification and provision of assistance to trafficking victims.

    In February 2009, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Malta organised a “train-the-trainer” seminar followed by a two-day training session which covered relevant EU and national legislation, victim identification and assistance. This training was held in conjunction with the social welfare agency, the Malta Police Force and the non governmental organisation People for Change Foundation. Participants included approximately 80 governmental and non-governmental social workers as well as other professionals. This training was undertaken under the EU AGIS Programme.

    Assistance and support provided to victims

    The Maltese authorities assist foreign victims through government-funded shelters that are used primarily for victims of domestic violence. The government provides legal protection, temporary residence permits, medical and psycho-social support and shelter to support victims who cooperate with the law enforcement authorities.

    The authorities have developed a formal referral system for women who are apprehended by the police for alleged involvement in prostitution through referring them to government social workers. The Maltese authorities are also seeking to develop procedures for identifying victims among potential asylum seekers by involving immigration officers. They are also assisting in their repatriation if they are not eligible for a temporary residence permit.

    The United States State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2010 mentions that the absence of anti-trafficking NGOs in Malta probably contributed to challenges in victim protection as NGOs traditionally provide valuable partnership in identifying and assisting potential victims. The government did not provide trafficking victims with shelter or services during the reporting period, nor were potential foreign labor trafficking victims offered residence permits, social, medical and legal assistance, and other potential safety and protection resources available under Maltese law prior to their return to their country of origin. The government has not developed or implemented standardized procedures for safe, voluntary repatriation for victims exploited in Malta.

    Residence permits

    Victims of trafficking are offered a two-month reflection period during which they may decide whether to cooperate with the Maltese authorities in relation to criminal proceedings. Victims of trafficking who cooperate with the Maltese authorities are granted temporary residence permits valid for a period of six months. The temporary residence permit  may be renewed if requiredin accordance with the Permission to Reside for Victims of trafficking or Illegal Immigration who Cooperate with the Maltese Authorities Regulations(S.L. 217/07).On a case-by-case basis, the Maltese authorities can offer legal alternatives to the removal of identified foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.

    A victim of trafficking may also benefit from the Witness Protection Programme as established by Article 75 of the Police Act (Cap. 164). This programme may be utilised by any victim of trafficking in persons who accepts and “declares that he will testify during any trial of any participant in the crime and any benefit granted shall be forfeited if the witness refuses to so testify”. Benefits within the programme include the resettlement of victims in other countries under the protection of a new identity, protection of the life and property of a witness and his family, and payment of a subsistence allowance. The final decision ultimately rests with the Attorney General, who decides whether such a person will be admitted to the Witness Protection Programme, as requested by the Commissioner of Police.

    Special protective measures for children

    The Permission to Reside for Victims of trafficking or Illegal Immigration who Cooperate with the Maltese Authorities Regulations(S.L. 217/07) provide that victims of trafficking or of an action to facilitate illegal immigration who are either children or young persons in need of care will be assisted in terms of the Children and Young Persons (Care Order) Act (Chap. 258).

    In accordance with the Criminal Code (Chap. 9) wherever the victim is a minor, the offence does not need to involve use of violence or threats, deceit or fraud, misuse of authority, influence or pressure, or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of the person in order for the offence to exist. Wherever these means are used, they constitute an aggravation and the punishment is increased by one degree.

    Investigation and prosecution

    Special units

    Within the Malta Police Force, trafficking in human beings falls under the responsibility of the Vice Squad. The Vice Squad is also responsible for sexual offences, domestic violence, child abuse, curbing of prostitution, missing persons, illegal gambling, clandestine lotto and paedophilia on the internet. The Squad is made up of 16 officers, including Inspectors, Sergeants and Constables.

    The social welfare agency has a liaison officer responsible for matters relating to human trafficking, who liaises with the Malta Police Force and other entities on pertinent cases. The Officer also liaises with other professionals within the social welfare agency itself, particularly with regard to the identification, assessment and support to victims of trafficking. Statistics from the Maltese authorities show that in 2008 three suspected traffickers were arrested. In 2007 six suspected traffickers were arrested. In 2008, one victim was identified, and in 2007 seven victims were identified.  The US TIP report 2010 reported that the government of Malta did not convict and punish any alleged trafficking offenders during the reporting period (2009). Several ongoing court cases cited in the 2008 and 2009 Reports remained unresolved.

    AGIS was an EU framework programme to help the police, the judiciary and professionals in EU Member States and candidate countries to co-operate in criminal matters and in the fight against rganised crime.

    The most important challenges at national level

    The fight against human trafficking is by no means an easy one. Victims are often reluctant to speak, as they would have been intimidated by their traffickers. Therefore identification of victims of human trafficking remains one of the major challenges posed by this crime, be it in Malta or elsewhere. It is for these reasons that Government has taken action with a view to ensure that efforts in this regard are properly coordinated and given due priority by the relevant stakeholders working in this area. Therefore the recently held training also sought to enhance existing contacts, as well as to establish new ones, between several public authorities, as well as to ensure adequate and reliable networking between different authorities for the provision of assistance to factions of society exposed or vulnerable to human trafficking activity.

    Government is also to publish a national action plan, which would provide for strategies and practices to address these challenges and identify and help victims.  The organisation and implementation of the multidisciplinary coalition between stakeholders working together to address this crime require adequate funding which is another challenge in itself. Nevertheless Government shall not be detracted from its fundamental responsibility. Measures addressing the three key areas of human trafficking, namely the prevention of trafficking, the prosecution of traffickers and protection of trafficking victims, shall be strengthened and enhanced.

    Latest initiatives/activities related to anti-trafficking policy

    Although comparatively few cases of human trafficking have been encountered, the Maltese Government still considers human trafficking a serious problem. Human trafficking is the modern form of slavery, and therefore cannot be tolerated, however small the number of cases.

    For this reason, a national Monitoring Committee, which convened for the first time during the present year, has been set up by the Prime Minister. The aims of the Committee are primarily to:

    • Contribute to and update the National Human Trafficking Action Plan, which is currently in draft form;
    • Monitor the implementation of the Action Plan, and produce reports to inform Government of the state of Human Trafficking in Malta;
    • Establish knowledge and information exchange relationships with other States’ authorities;
    • Assess the operational practices and procedures of all organisations involved in Trafficking in Human Beings; and,
    • To embark on a communication process with groups of people at risk or the general public as necessary.

    The training addressed the different aspects of human trafficking, including victim identification, and prosecution of offenders among others.  Training also addressed the best possible ways to improve networking between service providers in order to envisage an integrated strategy providing for victim support.

    Pursuant to the appointment of Malta’s first Anti-Human Trafficking Coordinator by the Prime Minister in 2010, the Prime Minister established a Monitoring Committee, which convened for the first time in May 2011.

    The Committee members are major stakeholders in the sector, including the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Police and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Justice and Home Affairs. The scope of the Committee is to monitor the implementation of commitments relating to the fight against human trafficking by the competent authorities, be this in this sphere of prevention, prosecution of offenders or the protection of victims.

    Training for governmental as well as non-governmental stakeholders, delivered by experts from IOM (Washington), was held on 14-17th June 2011. Participants included officers from the Office of the Attorney General, the Police, the Employment and Training Corporation, Aġenzija Appoġġ (Malta’s social welfare agency), the Migrant Health Unit and two NGOs, namely the Jesuit Refugee Service and Caritas. This training project was co-financed by the United States G-TIP Office (Washington) and the United States Embassy in Malta.

    During its meeting of 30th September 2011, the Monitoring Committee formally approved Malta’s first Action Plan on Combating Trafficking in Persons, which was subsequently published on the Ministry for Justice and Home Affairs website on 4th October 2011.

    The Action Plan, the implementation of which will be monitored by the Monitoring Committee, has the following objectives:

    1. Consolidation of current procedures and initiatives relating to trafficking in persons;
    2. Identification of areas of concern requiring action;
    3. Enhancement of accountability in relation to the delivery of actions within the National Action Plan;
    4. Provision of the necessary tools and resources for the development of a holistic strategy in the fight against trafficking in persons
    5. Raising awareness among Public Authorities in relation to the importance of trafficking cases with a view to register greater effectiveness in relation to the prosecution of cases and the identification of victims; and,
    6. Where necessary, enhance the Administrative Capacity of Maltese authorities to deal with Human Trafficking cases.

    The Action Plan, which covers the period 4th quarter 2011- 4th quarter 2012, provides for actions aimed at preventing human trafficking, prosecuting offenders as well protecting victims.

    The Maltese authorities, through the Ministry for Justice and Home Affairs, have also teamed up with IOM, who will be assisting in the implementation of the National Action Plan through the “Launching Initiatives supporting Malta’s efforts to Suppress trafficking (LIMES)” project. The project envisages further training for local stakeholders, assistance in the establishment of a formalised referral mechanism and an awareness campaign among other measures. A   meeting between IOM experts and the Monitoring Committee, as part of the initial phases of implementation, was held on 4th November 2011.

    In 2011 a Trafficking in Human Beings case, involving victims of Romanian nationality appeared before the Maltese Criminal Courts of Justice. The case is still sub-judice.

    Caritas Malta and the Jesuit Refugees Service (JRS) have participated in training organised by the Ministry for Home Affairs regarding trafficking in persons.  In July 2012 Caritas and JRS were invited to appoint their representatives on the Stakeholders’ Taskforce. Both NGO’s have appointed their representatives on the Taskforce pursuant to this request.

    Following the GRETA country visit in February 2012, the Maltese authorities have responded to the GRETA report in September 2012.

    National Indicators

    The list of National Indicators for the Identification of Victims of Human Trafficking was formally approved by the Monitoring Committee on the 21st January 2013 following discussion and consultation with respective authorities.  The list was disseminated amongst local stakeholders, including relevant NGOs.

    National Action Plan

    On the 21st January 2013, the Monitoring Committee concluded and approved the Second National Action Plan against Human Trafficking, which covers the years 2013 and 2014. Some items from the first National Action Plan that require further attention were incorporated into the Second National Action, thereby ensuring continuity. The implementation of the Second National Action Plan will therefore ensure the attainment of Malta’s objective in this sphere, further to improving capability at executive level through appropriate action.  The Action Plan will also ensure the implementation of international commitments by Malta, including the objectives of the EU Strategy, thereby confirming Government’s commitment in this sphere.

    GRETA

    The first report on the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in Malta was adopted during the 10th meeting of the Committee of the Parties on February 15th 2013.

    Generally speaking, the Malta report was positive, as the Committee welcomed the measures being taken by the Maltese authorities to combat trafficking in human beings.  Nevertheless the Committee also put forward recommendations for further action in order to improve the implementation of the Convention by Malta.  The authorities took note of the recommendations and are considering their implementation by means of the National Action plan or by any other action which would be taken in parallel with Action Plan.

    Standard Operating Procedures

    The Victim Referral System is now being further developed by means of the drawing up of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Draft SOPs have been prepared and submitted to the members of the Stakeholders’ Task Force for consultation purposes. Following several consultation meetings the members of the Task Force came to an agreement on the finalised dossier during a meeting held on the 5th March 2013. The SOPs will be submitted to the Monitoring Committee for approval and signature by the heads of the Departments and entities concerned.

    Contracted Expert

    The Ministry for Home Affairs contracted the services of Mr. Stefano Volpicelli for a period of nine months. Mr. Volpicelli, a former IOM expert, has been assigned several tasks, including the provision of on-the-ground training for stakeholders in the sector, thereby addressing administrative capacity requirements. It is considered that such action is an investment in the human resources of the entities concerned. Mr. Volpicelli is conducting on site visits, meeting the officials of each entity to identify the training needs and resultantly targeted training events are being held. Amongst other, training has been held with the management and personnel of Aġenzija Appoġġ, AWAS, Caritas and the Jesuit Refugee Service. Other training events shall be targeting officials working in One-Stop-Shop Community Centres as well as Border Guards and Immigration Police. It is considered that this would benefit victims of sexual exploitation, as well as victims of other forms of exploitation.

    Study

    Mr Volpicelli is also tasked with conducting the first study on human trafficking in Malta which primarily aims to determine the needs of victims of human trafficking in Malta, based on scrutiny of available data and secondary sources, as well as qualitative interviews conducted with service providers. Furthermore, the study aims to assess past cases of human trafficking and the support which was offered to the victims. The study will also analyse Employment and Training Corporation data in order to identify potentialities for human trafficking in specific sectors. This would be followed up by interviews with persons deemed to pertain to categories at risk.

    Extension of IOM project

    The LIMES (Launching Initiatives Supporting Malta’s Efforts to Suppress Trafficking) project was extended for another 6 months and is therefore now scheduled to come to a close in June 2013. The Ministry contracted IOM to support Malta’s efforts in combating trafficking in human beings, originally within the framework of Malta’s First National Action Plan In November 2012. Work is currently ongoing with a view to develop and launch a human trafficking awareness campaign, including a TV spot.

    Furthermore, the spot that will be screened on local TV to raise awareness in relation to human trafficking refers explicitly to sexual exploitation and the need to curb it. The spot actively encourages any person who knows of such a crime, or who suffered from it, to report it. This work being undertaken should therefore also contribute towards a reduction in the demand for such services by empowering potential victims and the public.

    National Referral Mechanism

    Currently there is a Memorandum of Understanding between the Malta Police and Appoġġ Agency (Malta’s social welfare agency) which provides for ensuring the provision of support for possible victims of trafficking.  By means of this MOU, the agency provides all the assistance required to keep the persons concerned safe and secure and refer them to support services as necessary. Services provided by Appoġġ are accessible to both nationals and non-nationals.

    One task set in the next round of training to be held in March 2012, as planned in the National Action Plan, shall be that of extending and enhancing networking and collaboration between all stakeholders, including NGOs. Therefore one outcome from the training shall be the drawing up of a more comprehensive National Referral Mechanism.

    One of the challenges envisaged is placing of data on the same electronic platform, since law enforcement authorities and social agencies have sensitive and personal data which they may not be able to make available to each other.

  • 4. EU AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

    The EU/AGIS-funded project entitled ‘Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Enhancing Victims Protection through Operational Networking and Co-operation and Joint Multi-Disciplinary Trainings for Counter-Trafficking Specialists in EU Member States, Candidate and Neighbouring Countries’, was undertaken in collaboration with the IOM, a Maltese team composed of representatives from the social welfare agency, the Police and NGOs. The project included training on best practice to prevent, identify and protect victims of human trafficking. In accordance with the train-the-trainer method, the pertinent information was then disseminated to other relevant professionals including persons working in the area of irregular migration, the Police Force, medical workers, helpline volunteers and UNHCR.

    The  train-the-trainer approach has been repeated  also on other issues including:

    • the implementation of Council Directive 2004/81/EC on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration, who cooperate with the competent authorities
    • developing national indicators on sexual and labour exploitation for the identification of victims of human trafficking
    • profiling and implementing proactive monitoring and the implementation of trafficking indicators

    Future plans in terms of implementation of the directive 2011/36/EU

    The Bill 97, making provisions for the transposition of the Directive 2011/36/EU was cancelled due to the dissolution of Maltese Parliament in view of General Parliamentary Elections held on the 9th March 2013.  The Bill would be again re-activated for discussion when a new Parliament is convened.

    Pursuant to the above the Monitoring Committee discussed a proposal to introduce a penalty in respect of persons who knowingly make use of the services of a trafficked person. It is expected that further discussions would be held in relation to this proposal, which would seek to deter clients of persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation among others.

    The greatest challenge which is envisaged to be encountered in relation to the implementation of this Directive relates to statistics and their comparability with the statistics of other Member States. 

     

  • 5. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    The social welfare agency is currently running a campaign with Body Shop (Malta), as part of a Body Shop (Europe) Campaign. The campaign was launched towards the end of 2009 with a view to contributing to the fight against the trafficking of children and adolescents for sexual exploitation. A leaflet was produced by Body Shop and distributed with the assistance of the social welfare agency. Part of the proceeds from Body Shop sales of a particularproduct will be dedicated to financing urgent medical, psychological, psychiatric and accommodation needs of victims of human trafficking.

  • 6. RESOURCES

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