The government maintained protection efforts. Police identified 23 foreign trafficking victims and one Maltese victim, compared to 30 foreign victims in the previous reporting period. Forced labor victims included 17 Filipinos (13 from a single case), three Mauritians, one Nepali, and one Pakistani. Sixteen of the forced labor victims were male and six were female. Sex trafficking victims included one Moldovan woman and one Maltese girl—the first government-identified child victim to date. The government maintained standard operating procedures for victim identification that allowed a range of entities to refer victims to the government’s social welfare agency. The government funded the UK to provide training to immigration officials on victim identification and referral. The training was compulsory for all officials responsible for issuing residence permits and visas. In March 2019, the government also funded training for labor officials and inspectors on victim identification.
The national welfare agency offered medical care, employment services, personal and legal counseling, and additional emergency shelters and staff. Victims had freedom of movement in government shelters. The government provided the child victim with comprehensive specialized support. Sixteen of the 24 victims identified during the reporting period received care services. The government assisted one victim with return to their home country. The government hired a social worker dedicated to trafficking victims. In March 2019, the legal aid agency trained victim assistance lawyers.
The government encouraged but did not require victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their alleged traffickers, and provided them with protective support, including the option to testify via video, although courts inconsistently offered it. Some victims reported challenges in accessing interpreters. The law provided victims a two-month reflection period to recover and contemplate cooperation with law enforcement. A victim support unit provided counseling, information, and referral services to victims of all crime, including trafficking. Foreign victims who decided to assist police in prosecuting trafficking cases were entitled to a renewable six-month temporary residence permit, police protection, legal assistance, and the right to work. In 2018, authorities enacted a new policy that removed all residency and work permit fees for victims of trafficking. The government provided these temporary residence permits to 15 of the trafficking victims identified during the reporting period. The government improved collaboration between ministries issuing residency permits. In one large case, 14 victims received permits within one day of detection. Victims could apply for restitution from the government and file a civil suit against the perpetrators for the restitution of unpaid salaries and other expenses. One civil suit was under judicial consideration during the reporting period. Courts penalized some minors under prostitution laws in recent years without efforts to identify them as sex trafficking victims.