Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking (MSHT) generate billions of euros every year and are amongst the largest forms of illicit finance, much of which is laundered via the financial system. 30 July is the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons and every country in the world is affected by MSHT, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims – and Malta is no exception.
The Malta Bankers’ Association (MBA), with the support of its members and several other entities, has produced an animated video to raise awareness about MSHT. The video focuses on the issue itself, but also on what the public and operators in financial services can and should do to minimise MSHT, as well as highlighting those resources and contacts through whom one may learn more and possibly flag such issues.
“The theme for this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which is organised by the United Nations, is ‘Victims’ Voices Lead the Way’. The theme highlights the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking. Survivors are key actors in the fight against human trafficking as they play a crucial role for the relevant authorities to establish effective measures to prevent this crime, identify and rescue victims and support them on their road to rehabilitation,” said Karol Gabarretta, MBA’s Secretary General.
He added that the video’s aim is to highlight the fact that although may think that slavery and human trafficking belong to the past, this is not the case as around the world, as of now criminal gangs enslave men, women and children and traffic them across borders to be exploited in other countries, including Malta. The video shows how victims are kept in inhumane conditions, subject to abuse and violence, including rape and torture and forced to work for little, or no pay.
Mr Gabarretta said: “We can all do our part to detect – and as far as possible, prevent – this evil crime. Financial institutions combat human trafficking through robust transaction monitoring systems and processes, and through other key indicators such as nationals from high-risk countries, especially women, who seem frightened; people who are not allowed to speak or do not have their own phone; those who have all questions answered for them by somebody else, or who do not carry their own identity documents or bank cards.”
Through the video, the MBA provides examples of suspicious behaviours and actions that can be detected by financial institutions and flagged to the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), which will investigate as required and involve the Police authorities if necessary.
Members of the public can also help combat this crime. If one comes across a suspected case of MSHT and has concerns for the safety of any potential victim, one should reach out to the Malta Police Force by calling 119 or, in case of an emergency you can even call 112. In addition, Agenzija Appogg, which also supports MSHT victims, can also be contacted by calling 179.
Mr Gabarretta thanked all the entities and banks that supported this video production.
The video was produced by the MBA with the support of the FIAU, the Malta Police Force, All Equal – Supporting Victims of Human Trafficking, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) 2014-2020, Foundation for Social Welfare Services, the US Embassy in Malta, the British High Commission in Malta, ACAMS, BPC as well as the following supporting banks: HSBC Bank Malta plc, IIG Bank (Malta) Ltd, Sparkasse Bank Malta plc, Bank of Valletta plc and BNF Bank plc.