On Tuesday 16th February, in the presence of the Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government, Hon. Dr Owen Bonnici, the Government of Ireland and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Malta signed an agreement to undertake a project to "Improve the Quality of Prosecution and Protection of Victims of Trafficking through the Justice System in the Republic of Malta".
The Agreement was signed by H.E. Ambassador of Ireland to the Republic of Malta, Mr Pádraig Mac Coscair, and Federico Soda, Director of the IOM Coordination office for the Mediterranean and Chief of Mission for Italy and Malta.
Trafficking of human beings, described as "a stain on humanity" by Ambassador Mac Coscair, ranks behind only the illegal weapon and drug trade markets as the largest and most profitable criminal activity in the world. More than 20 million people around the world are embroiled in it, many of whom are not even identified as victims of trafficking.
"In 2015, more than half of the maritime arrivals to Europe consisted of women and children, including alarmingly high numbers of unaccompanied children and women trafficked or at risk of being trafficking", said Federico Soda. "IOM condemns trafficking in person as a disgraceful crime. For this reason we are very pleased to be working with the Government of Malta and the Government of Ireland on enhancing the prosecution of traffickers and the protection of victims."
The project follows earlier ones conducted by the IOM in Malta, namely LIMES "Launching Initiatives Supporting Malta's Efforts to Suppress Trafficking" with the Maltese Government and their ongoing project Looking Beneath,which aims at contributing towards capacity-building of various entities working in the field of anti-trafficking.
Ambassador Mac Coscair stated that "human trafficking is not only a serious crime but a gross violation of human rights which we are duty-bound to tackle" adding that as part of Ireland's foreign policy for a just work it was a privilege to be able to support this project.
The Ambassador thanked the IOM for the initiative and Minister Bonnici for his support and hoped for future opportunities for collaboration. The IOM, for its part, expressed its gratitude to the Irish and Maltese Governments for their support and commitment in creating a climate of zero tolerance policy towards trafficking in human beings.