2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malta
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||27 June 2011|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malta, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee622.html [accessed 30 January 2015]|
Malta (Tier 2 Watch List)
Malta is a source and destination country for European women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Malta is likely a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor, including in restaurants, private households, and in unskilled or semi-skilled labor. The approximately 2,000 irregular African migrants currently residing in Malta may be vulnerable to human trafficking in Malta's informal labor market. There were anecdotal reports that Malta may be a transit country for African women subjected to sex trafficking in continental Europe.
The Government of Malta does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these efforts, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts to address human trafficking over the previous reporting period; therefore, Malta is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a second consecutive year. The government demonstrated greater commitment to combat trafficking through national coordination by appointing the country's first anti-trafficking coordinator and anti-trafficking monitoring board. These measures, however, have not yet resulted in concrete improvements to victim identification procedures, victim care systems, effective investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenders, or targeted prevention activities. Despite its efforts, the government did not identify any trafficking victims this year or begin investigations or prosecutions of any trafficking offenders. There were credible reports that victims of trafficking were punished for acts committed during the course of trafficking or deported without proper victim identification. In the only trafficking case resolved this year, the trafficking offender received a suspended sentence.
Recommendations for Malta: Intensify efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, particularly migrants, women in prostitution, and foreign workers; develop formal procedures for the identification and care of victims of trafficking, including victims of forced labor and possible child victims; ensure that identified victims of trafficking are not punished for acts committed as a direct result of trafficking; ensure that potential trafficking victims are not deported prior to the investigation of their trafficking cases; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders; ensure that convicted trafficking offenders, including any officials identified as complicit in trafficking, receive adequate punishment, including time in prison; continue to strengthen the national coordination structures to combat trafficking in persons, including by drafting a national action plan; attempt to establish partnerships with NGOs or religious organizations in Malta on anti-trafficking activities and encourage NGOs or religious organizations to cooperate with the government in identifying and providing services to potential victims; consider allowing for the more robust participation of the attorney general's office in the investigation of potential trafficking cases; and establish partnerships with international organizations and NGOs in relevant source countries, as appropriate, to ensure safe and voluntary repatriation for victims.
The Government of Malta demonstrated minimal progress in its efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking in persons offenders during the reporting period. Article 248A-E of Malta's criminal code prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes punishments of two to nine years' imprisonment. These prescribed penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government did not begin any trafficking investigations this year. The government convicted one sex trafficking offender during the reporting period, but the court failed to impose a sentence of jail time on the convicted offender; instead, it delivered a two-year suspended sentence and a fine. The prosecutor has appealed the length of the sentence awarded. The government did not investigate or initiate prosecutions of any suspected trafficking offenses and several trafficking cases remain unresolved. The government did not conduct any trafficking-specific training for police, prosecutors, or judges during the reporting period.
The Government of Malta's efforts to protect trafficking victims decreased during the reporting period. The government did not have a formal referral mechanism with which to identify victims of trafficking and ensure their care. The lack of formal procedures to guide law enforcement responders in identifying victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as foreign workers, women in prostitution, and irregular migrants, impaired the government's ability to ensure that trafficking victims were recognized and treated in accordance with international law. Accordingly, the government did not identify any victims of trafficking in 2010, despite credible reports that victims of trafficking had presented themselves to police. There were anecdotal reports that a Nigerian irregular migrant had been deported in 2010 after informing the police that she was a victim of trafficking; the police did not investigate her claim. Potential victims of trafficking were punished for unlawful acts committed in the course of trafficking. In July 2010, a Somali woman who was a possible victim of trafficking received a six-month suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of making a false declaration to immigration officials and being in possession of false documentation. The government allocated no funds to international organizations or NGOs for anti-trafficking protection work. The government continued to designate anti-trafficking victim care responsibility and funds to Appogg, a Government of Malta social services agency with some private participation. Under the terms of a rarely observed memorandum of understanding, Appogg was empowered to provide shelter, psychological care, and other services to any identified victims of trafficking. Although Appogg has a 16-bed mixed-use shelter for women, only one trafficking victim was referred to this shelter; no trafficking victims were cared for at temporary shelters operated by NGOs and religious institutions. The Government of Malta did not establish any partnerships with international NGOs or organizations in relevant source countries to ensure the safe and voluntary return of victims. No victims reportedly received the 60-day reflection period provided for under Maltese law. Victims who agreed to testify could, in theory, receive resettlement to other countries under a new identity; however, the Maltese government did not offer this option or any other legal alternatives for identified trafficking victims to avoid removal to countries in which they would face retribution or hardship.
The government made some progress in advancing anti-trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period by enhancing governmental anti-trafficking coordination. Senior government officials showed increased awareness of Malta's human trafficking problem. The government named a national coordinator to lead its efforts in combating trafficking and, in February 2011, appointed a Trafficking Monitoring Board to develop and implement a national trafficking action plan. The Monitoring Board will bring together key actors from relevant agencies, such as the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs, and the Police Commissioner. This new structure should, when fully active, be able to set in place the necessary referral mechanism, victim identification protocols, and prosecution models to bring about change. However, the government's other prevention activities were minimal. The government continued to collaborate with an international cosmetics company in an agreement whereby the proceeds of products sold by the business would assist the government in developing an awareness campaign on child trafficking. Appogg, the social services agency, continued to run a social services hotline that could receive calls about human trafficking, but it was unclear whether they received any trafficking-related calls. The government did not report any specific measures to reduce the possible participation of Maltese nationals in child sex tourism abroad.