The Malta Independent 9 December 2018, Sunday

Over 40 million people worldwide affected by human trafficking and modern slavery

Giulia Magri Wednesday, 5 December 2018, 14:35 Last update: about 4 days ago

British High Commissioner Stuart Gill said that slavery is not a topic only discussed within history textbooks but a modern day phenomenon, considering that over 40 million people worldwide are affected by means of human trafficking or forced labour.

Gill, alongside Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli, presided over the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the fight against Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery. The signing took place this morning in the Ambassadors Hall, at the Auberge De Castille, where Gill highlighted that victims of human trafficking are exploited through prostitution, hotels, nail bars, car washes and in the building industry.

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He said that modern slavery has no borders and that human traffickers do not respect legal jurisdictions, and he pointed out that this is one of the main reasons why the fight to end modern slavery and human trafficking needs to have no boarders.

Gill said that in 2015 the UK introduced the Modern Slavery Act and in 2017. Addressing the UN General Assembly Prime Minister Theresa May called for action to end force labour, slavery and human trafficking by 2030.A National Referral Mechanism has been set up in the UK to identify potential victims of Modern Slavery and to ensure they receive the appropriate support.

He said that Malta is one of the first countries to sign up to take action against modern slavery, and that the British High Commission had maintained strong communication ties with Malta, including training sessions, sharing means of expertise and discussing legislation reforms. He said he was proud that Malta is taking words into action through the signing of the memorandum of understanding. 

Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli said that MoU aims to help approve the lives of victims and vulnerable members of society. She said that the state and the media must work to expose their suffering and take action to offer protection. She said that she wishes that the fight to end human trafficking and modern slavery will be part of the legacy of the government, which is has already pushed for legislations of civil liberties and human rights.

Foreigners and Maltese are faced with exploitation within the labour force, and with the signing of the MoU, new implementations would help those victims. Portelli highlighted that the reform was a step forward in future generations and their understandings of human rights and their interactions with one another.

In February Portelli led a delegation to London in order to pursuit further discussions on pros and cons of implementing anti-trafficking campaign in Malta. She said that civil societies and private sector into a single national strategy to safe guard the interests of the most vulnerable in society. She said that it is the role of private and civil sectors to ensure a means of approaching and gaining the trust of those victims who are dealing daily with modern slavery and forced labour.

Portelli said that such measures are the first of their kind in Malta and that the governments budget of next year allocated funds to be used in a National Funds Awareness campaign on human trafficking. She said that there is a course of action currently to help victims of prostitution who need help and to reduce human trafficking.

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