Trafficking In Persons Report 2012 - Malta
MALTA - TIER 2
Malta is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Sex trafficking victims have originated in Romania and Russia; children from Malta are also found subjected to sex trafficking within the country. 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 4,500 irregular African migrants currently residing in Malta from African countries may be vulnerable to human trafficking in the country's informal labor market. There were 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. The government progressed this year in its commitment to fight human trafficking, including through victim identification and the prosecution of trafficking offenders. The government created its first national anti-trafficking action plan and allocated funds to implement the plan. The government formally identified three victims of sex trafficking in June and began prosecuting the offenders. The government convicted a trafficking offender in a long-pending case, sentencing the offender to a significant prison term. The government also began collaborating with members of civil society to improve its anti-trafficking activities. Nevertheless, the Maltese government did not identify children in prostitution as sex trafficking victims or provide them with support available under Maltese anti-trafficking laws, but instead charged some them for loitering for prostitution and sometimes subjected them to punishment. Despite issuing the action plan in late 2011, the government has not yet finalized formal victim identification guidelines or conducted awareness-raising activities. The government sponsored an IOM-conducted training session in late March 2012 which was designed to review existing guidelines and provide a template for a new national referral mechanism.
Recommendations for Malta: Strengthen efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, particularly migrants, children, and women in prostitution, and foreign workers; develop and ensure implementation of formal victim identification guidelines; ensure that 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; continue to ensure that convicted trafficking offenders, including any officials convicted of complicity in trafficking, receive adequate punishment, including time in prison; fully enact national anti-trafficking action plan; strengthen 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; publicize the support hotline more broadly as an anti-trafficking hotline; and establish partnerships with international organizations and NGOs in relevant source countries, as appropriate, to ensure safe and voluntary repatriation for foreign victims.
The Government of Malta demonstrated clear progress in its law enforcement efforts to address human trafficking 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 investigated three new trafficking cases during the year, a significant increase from the complete lack of cases investigated in the previous three years. The first case involved Romanian dancers allegedly coerced into prostitution. The two remaining cases involved labor trafficking. The government initiated the prosecution of four alleged offenders in the sex trafficking case; the other investigations remained ongoing. A court convicted one trafficking offender in a case pending from 2004, sentencing him to a term of ten years in prison and one additional year for a prior suspended sentence. Prosecution of a police officer charged in a directly related criminal case remained pending. Authorities also convicted a trafficking offender on non-trafficking charges related to producing child pornography and child prostitution, sentencing the offender to six years in prison. The government provided partial financial support for an anti-trafficking training session conducted in June 2011 for members of the police, the attorney general's office, the social services agency, and other stakeholders. In March 2012, the government funded training for 30 government and NGO representatives on victim identification and referral. The government did not conduct any training programs in the previous reporting period. In January 2012, the government reorganized the police vice squad to create a specialized unit on trafficking and appointed an experienced police inspector as its head. Maltese authorities collaborated with Russian and Polish authorities on sex-trafficking investigations.
The Government of Malta improved its victim protection efforts during the reporting period, identifying victims of trafficking, and providing care to two of them. 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 in vulnerable groups - such as children in prostitution, foreign workers, women in prostitution, and irregular migrants - continued to impair the government's ability to ensure that trafficking victims were recognized and treated in accordance with international law. Authorities sometimes filed criminal charges against children in prostitution without showing that they had attempted to identify any trafficking victims among them. The government publicly recognized the need to create victim identification guidelines and created a task force to do so. In 2011, the government identified three foreign female sex trafficking victims. The social services agency provided the victims with hotel accommodation and short-term psychological assistance during the brief period of time they were in Malta. The government funded the victims' return to their home country at their request but did not coordinate with NGOs to ensure that their return was safe. The government continued to assign responsibility for the care of trafficking victims and provide funding to Appogg, a government social services agency with some private participation. Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding, Appogg was empowered to provide shelter, psychological care, and other services to any identified victims of trafficking. Appogg cared for one potential trafficking victim in its 16-bed mixed-use shelter. The government also provided long-term medical care and rehabilitation to another trafficking victim evacuated from Libya. During the previous year, Appogg cared for no victims of trafficking. The government entered into a contract with an international organization for anti-trafficking protection work. The government did not establish any partnerships with international NGOs or organizations in relevant source countries to ensure the safe and voluntary return of foreign victims. There were no reports of any trafficking victims availing themselves of the government's 60-day "reflection period," during which authorities would provide them shelter and services while they reflected on their options as provided under Maltese law. Victims who assisted police in prosecuting trafficking cases are entitled in theory to residence permits, but the government did not issue any such permits to victims during the year. The government took action to inspect both risky workplaces and strip clubs to detect illegal work and potential trafficking cases.
The government made progress in advancing anti-trafficking prevention efforts. In October 2011, it publicized its first anti-trafficking national action plan. The action plan contemplates that the government train the judiciary, law enforcement, and social services on trafficking, create guidelines for victim identification, complete a study on victims' needs, and conduct awareness raising activities among vulnerable groups, including irregular migrants. The government allocated significant funds toward the action plan - the equivalent of approximately $132,000 in 2011 and the equivalent of approximately $198,000 in 2012. In no prior year has the government assigned a line-item budget for trafficking. The government enhanced transparency by issuing quarterly reports about its anti-trafficking activities. The government's anti-trafficking monitoring board brought 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. The government also began convening the stakeholder task force of working-level contacts responsible for anti-trafficking activities. The government also established relationships with certain civil society organizations to strengthen anti-trafficking efforts. NGOs were specifically included in the anti-trafficking action plan to identify trafficking victims and assist in their care. The government conducted no formal anti-trafficking awareness campaigns during the year, although government officials did discuss trafficking in persons openly and high-level officials took part in a top-rated television interview program on the subject of human trafficking in October 2011. The Appogg social services agency continued to run a social services hotline that could receive calls about human trafficking but did not receive any trafficking-related calls on the hotline during the reporting period. NGOs raised concerns that the hotline was not well-publicized as a mechanism through which individuals could report cases of trafficking. The government did not report taking any specific measures to reduce the participation of Maltese nationals in child sex tourism abroad.
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