National Strategy and Action Plan Against Human Trafficking (2024-2030)

The Human Rights Directorate (HRD), within the Ministry for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms and Equality, has expressed its readiness to proceed with the development of a national anti-trafficking strategy (hereinafter “the Strategy”) that will equip Malta with more effective tools for prevention, protection of victims of trafficking and prosecution of traffickers.

The Human Rights Initiatives Unit (HRIU) within HRD has been tasked to implement the Electoral Manifesto Measure Number 665 and the Budgetary Measure Number 377, both referring to the need for a National Strategy to combat human trafficking in Malta to streamline all ongoing activities as well as recommendations given by European and international agencies.

Following a research and consultative phase carried out by the HRIU, an Anti-Trafficking Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) has been set up in October 2022 by HRIU comprising of representatives from each Ministry for the purpose of fulfilling the Coordination, Reporting and Monitoring functions of the Maltese State emerging from EU Directive 36/2011, the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, Warsaw, 16.V.2005 and the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto among other international instruments relevant to the Human Trafficking Reform.

As from December 2022, technical support under the European Union’s Technical Support Instrument (TSI) has been awarded to HRD to design Malta’s first National Strategy and to develop the National Action Plan as from the year 2024. The primary objectives of the Strategy are to formally establish a national referral mechanism, build a system for data gathering, and establish the required reporting framework. The Strategy shall also include attainable measures to achieve more focused outcomes, such as training, campaigns to raise awareness and the sharing of best practices. This two-year project shall involve internal consultation processes with Ministries and public entities in order to identify structural, administrative and legislative gaps in the field of human trafficking.

In order to bring together all government ministries not only to increase awareness, but also to identify means to collaborate in the fight against this crime, the HRIU has coordinated meetings and facilitated the communication between the IMC members and the TSI project experts.

This national mechanism is currently acting as a National Rapporteur and Coordinator on matters against human trafficking. The Monitoring Committee is overseeing the process to guarantee that the government complies effectively and comprehensively with its reporting and monitoring obligations as provided by international and European law.

The 4Ps—Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, and Partnership served as the foundation for the Strategy's pillars, which shall also take a human rights-focused, gender-sensitive, interdisciplinary, and cross-sectoral approach to contribute towards the development of a sustainable system for the early identification of victims and the provision of timely and effective protection and access to justice, including proper compensation for moral and material damages.

Through the cooperation of the IMC members and the Human Rights Initiatives Unit, the Council of Europe Experts concluded an analysis of the current THB situation in Malta, including institutional structures, policies, public consultation feedback and processes currently in place.

As part of the fulfilment of Action 9 of the current National Action Plan 2020-2023, a research among victims and survivors of human trafficking in Malta has been carried out, with the support of an expert engaged by the TSI project team, to outline the efficacy of the identification process and assistance provided. A secondary aim was to understand how recruitment into exploitation was taking place in Malta.

A consolidated needs analysis and recommendation report for the development of a pre-strategy was drawn by the TSI Project experts in October 2023. This process has led to the finalisation of the draft strategy and action plan for combatting trafficking in human being to be approved by the Maltese authorities, which provides a sustainable, inter-disciplinary, cross-sectoral, and comprehensive strategic and operational framework.

The implementation phase of the Strategy and new action plan shall seek to improve co-ordination between stakeholders, as well as ensure the development of tools and processes for a sound monitoring system to be in place.

This phase shall be initiated with the drawing of a set of guidelines to improve coordination between stakeholders responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the Strategy.

Training will be provided to national officials to support the implementation of tools and coordination of processes provided for in the Strategy and reflected in the operational guidelines.

A Communication action plan based on a communication strategy will ensure that the obligations of the State reflected in the National Strategy and Action Plan are promoted and enforced by the national authorities.