In a report published today, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) has urged Malta to step up efforts to provide assistance, including safe accommodation, to victims of human trafficking.
The report assesses developments since the publication of GRETA’s first evaluation report in January 2013 as regards the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by Malta. A number of the recommendations made in that report have been implemented, including the putting into place of a National Referral Mechanism defining the roles and responsibilities of different agencies in identifying and assisting victims of trafficking. Another positive development is the increased attention paid to combating human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation. GRETA also welcomes the adoption of the new Victims of Crime Act, which includes provisions regarding access of victims of trafficking to assistance and compensation.
However, GRETA urges the Maltese authorities to ensure that the procedure for the identification and referral to assistance of child victims of trafficking takes into account their special needs, including involvement of psychological support and pertinent training of staff. The offence committed against a child, regardless of the means used, should be introduced as an aggravating circumstance.
GRETA is also concerned that the legal provisions concerning the recovery and reflection period have not been amended and once again urges the Maltese authorities to ensure that these provisions comply with Article 13 of the Convention.
The Maltese authorities should also make further efforts to improve access to compensation for victims of trafficking, including through the provision of information and legal aid.
Finally, GRETA once again urges the Maltese authorities to ensure that human trafficking cases are investigated, prosecuted and adjudicated promptly and effectively.