EU Parliament and Council reach provisional deal to revise human trafficking rules

Negotiators from the European Parliament and the European Council have reached a preliminary agreement to revise the regulations on trafficking in human beings, which will have a broader scope and provide better support for victims of trafficking. This is a significant development as Malta has been repeatedly urged to take action on this issue.

Several key provisions of the agreement have been expanded to include forced marriage, illegal adoption and exploitation of surrogacy, as well as provisions for the coordination of anti-trafficking and asylum authorities to ensure that victims in need of international protection receive appropriate support and protection while respecting their right to asylum.

The agreement reached on Tuesday night also criminalises the use of services provided by victims of trafficking and punishes those who knowingly exploit them in order to reduce the demand that drives exploitation.

In addition, companies convicted of trafficking will face sanctions such as exclusion from tendering processes and loss of public aid or subsidies. Prosecutors will have the discretion not to prosecute victims who have been coerced into committing crimes and will ensure their support regardless of their cooperation in investigations.

In its 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report, the US State Department noted that Malta “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons, but is making significant efforts to do so”.

Nevertheless, the report found that the Maltese government failed to meet the minimum standards in several key areas. For example, for the second year in a row, the government reported no convictions of traffickers, undermining efforts to combat trafficking and victims’ access to justice. Gaps in victim identification persisted and the government did not report identifying any Maltese children, asylum seekers or undocumented migrants as victims of trafficking.

The report by the US State Department also found how Maltese authorities did not effectively enforce labour regulations to prevent recruitment fees charged to workers, which increased workers’ vulnerability to trafficking nor did it make any concrete efforts to increase oversight and regulation of massage parlours where there was a higher incidence of trafficking indicators.

Last year, authorities in the Philippines also issued a warning about immigration scams concerning work in Malta, where employment recruiters con victims into thinking they will be given work papers or where they are exploited once they reach the country.

The Philippines Bureau of Immigration warned that “Malta is still a hotspot for trafficking” of Filipinos looking for “greener pastures abroad” as the bureau announced the interception of two “human trafficking victims bound for Malta”.

In 2021, Malta was asked again by the Council of Europe to step up its fight against human trafficking, including ensuring that cases are investigated proactively and thoroughly, resulting in sanctions that serve to dissuade potential traffickers.

GRETA, the Council of Europe’s expert group, said that while Malta has continued to develop legislative and policy frameworks against the phenomenon, it remains a country of destination for trafficked persons. According to the GRETA report, published on 10 November 2021, 44 people were formally identified as victims of trafficking.

At a press conference following the agreement between the European Parliament and the European Council,  Malin Björk (The Left, Sweden), the lead MEP for the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, said: “I’m happy with this agreement. It strengthens the protection of victims of trafficking, with a special focus on the most vulnerable victims, including persons in need of international protection, women, girls and children. It requires the Member States step up their response to trafficking in human beings, including mandating national anti-trafficking coordinators”.

Parliament and Council will have to approve the agreement formally and the new rules will come into force twenty days after their publication in the EU Official Journal. Member states will then have two years to implement the provisions.

                           

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Aggie
Aggie
1 month ago

There should be NO Human Traffic Rules !! It’s illegal end if story.

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