Exploitation of Vietnamese workers in a clothing factory (Malta)

The Managing Director and Marketing Director of a Chinese clothing factory in Malta were charged with trafficking of nine Vietnamese workers for the purposes of labour exploitation. The police discovered that the company did not have enough money in its accounts to pay all the salaries at once.

The workers were given two contracts: they were first shown a contract in Vietnamese, for a salary of € 685. At the last moment they were made to sign another contract in both Vietnamese and Chinese for a lower salary, between € 350 and € 500. The authorities were given a false contract, because the actual contract did not comply with the law.

The Vietnamese workers were promised € 600 a month. They had to pay half of this amount for housing and food. The company also kept their passports and € 150 a month, to make sure the workers would not leave.

The victims were living in very cramped housing conditions, with no proper sheets on their beds. They were given only one roll of toilet paper a month. The shower was the only place where they could hang their washing. The gate was closed in the evening, so the workers could not leave. The workers were told they would be sent back to Vietnam if they complained.

Partners involved in the cooperation

  • Vice Squad Police: started gathering intelligence and investigating the case after a report from an NGO. Victims were formally identified by the police. At that point there was enough evidence to take the case to court to charge the alleged perpetrators. The Vice Squad Police provided interpreters for the victims and the alleged perpetrators.
    The police requested Appogg (the Agency for Social Welfare Services) and the JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) to be present and give support to the victims during interviews and court hearings.
  • Appogg (Agency for Social Welfare Services):
    - provided emergency shelter and accommodation, clothing and culturally appropriate food
    - connected with medical services to provide medical assessments and treatment
    - communicated with Immigration Police and Visa Department regarding residence permits and visas
    - communicated with the Employment and Training Corporation regarding the possibility of new jobs for the victims
    - worked closely with the Jesuit Refugee Service, who provided legal services and support during the court proceedings.

What made this case successful?

Networking by stakeholders working in the field of trafficking in human beings (THB) made this case successful. Stakeholders in Malta meet to take training on THB together. The drawing up of a National Referral Mechanism and Standard Operating Procedures also contribute towards working as a team whenever a new case is encountered.