Malta does not fully comply with the minimum standards listed in a US law aimed at the elimination of human trafficking despite its “significant efforts”, according to a US State Department report.
Despite issuing an action plan in 2011, the government had not yet finalised formal victim identification guidelines or raised awareness
Malta was recently moved up a notch into tier 2 of the trafficking victims protection report after having featured on the tier 2 watch list for two consecutive years.
Countries in the tier 2 category still do not fully comply with the minimum standards set by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, enacted in the US in 2000, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with such standards.
The report assesses the government’s efforts to identify and assist human trafficking victims and prosecute traffickers.
It commends the identification of three sex trafficking victims and the conviction of a trafficking offender in a long-pending case.
The case, decided in March, is that of Raymond Mifsud, who was jailed for 11 years after he was found guilty of running a prostitution ring with East European women who were forced into the trade.
During the case, the court heard that he would lock them inside his farmhouse and force them to have sex with men for €35.
If they refused to work as prostitutes, he offered them a job in a strip bar or “sold” them to someone else for about €1,200 to cover the costs of their trip to Malta.
The US report also mentioned the government’s adoption and partial implementation of a National Trafficking Action Plan for Malta.
However, it said that, despite issuing an action plan in 2011, the government had not yet finalised formal victim identification guidelines or conducted awareness-raising activities.
Asked about the guidelines, a Home Affairs Ministry spokesman said they would be made available in the third quarter of this year.
The guidelines would be formulated by local stakeholders together with the International Organisation for Migration.
Preparations for awareness-raising activities were also underway, he added.
The report identified areas that require additional action to meet the minimum standards set for the elimination of trafficking.
These include measures to identify and protect victims and to partner with civil society organisations.
The government welcomed the “upgrading” of the island to the second tier, adding that the report referred to “several positive developments achieved under the direct coordination” of former Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici.
The government said it was already taking action to implement the report’s recommendations, including strengthening efforts to identify victims, the development of formal victim identification guidelines and strengthening partnerships with key NGOs.
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