According to the Trafficking in Persons report by the US State Department, 23 foreign victims and one Maltese girl were the victims of the crime in 2018. The total victims (24) was six less than what was reported in the year 2017.
Apart from this, 22 victims of forced labour were also found in Malta including 17 Filipinos, three Mauritians, one Pakistani, and one Nepali.
Out of the total victims of forced labour, seventeen were male and six females. The Maltese girl found to be a victim of sex trafficking is also the first government-identified child victim until now.
In 2018, the police prosecuted 10 people in related crimes as compared to only two in 2017. Three other cases involving the reports of police collusion with traffickers remained unsolved till the time of publishing of the report.
“The perennial issue of slow court proceedings continued to hamper prosecutions and convictions,” the report stated.
The report also stated that the Maltese government does not meet the minimum required standards for the elimination of trafficking. However, it is making significant efforts to do so.
According to reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs and National Security had conducted several training sessions for police recruits, immigration officials, and domestic and foreign border guards in September 2018.
The US State Department report recommended that “Malta vigorously and expeditiously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, including convicting traffickers and sentencing convicted traffickers to significant prison terms.”
It also stated that there was a need for training of officials and staff to identify trafficking victims among the immigrant population. It also recommended better coordination among ministries for smooth implementation of the National Action Plan.
“The country’s successful efforts to prosecute more traffickers, facilitate and fast-track the support granted by the state to the victims and increase awareness about human trafficking,” the Parliamentary Secretariat for Reforms, Citizenship and Simplification of Administrative Processes was quoted as saying by the Malta Independent.
“The Parliamentary Secretariat positively welcomes this report and notes its recommendations to introduce regulation to combat sexual exploitation within massage parlours and expedite the investigation, prosecution and conviction of traffickers,” it said.
“The two issues are addressed in the government’s consultation document which will be launched in the coming weeks. The consultation process will be the first step towards the creation of a holistic national strategy against human trafficking. A nation-wide education campaign on human trafficking will also be launched in the same period,” the Secretariat added.