KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 — The government is determined to improve enforcement, increase prosecution, strengthen protection for victims and combat the crime of human trafficking, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.
In order to ensure the effectiveness of actions by the government, Hamzah said the sharing of information by non-governmental organisations (NGO) civil society organisations (CSO), the public and the media was very much needed given the cunning and changing nature of the crime and modus operandi of human traffickers.
He said those groups could assist the government in providing protection and support to the victims, as well as in organising prevention and awareness programmes to educate the people about the crime.
“Companies and employers have a role to play in implementing good labour practices in compliance with domestic legislation and global standards.
“As such, the government called on those companies and employers to fully comply with the national labour laws to avoid legal actions being taken against them for offences such as human trafficking and forced labour,” he said when tabling the government’s response to the United States Department of State’s 2022 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report during the Dewan Rakyat sitting today.
The report is a global assessment carried out by the US on 188 countries in the aspects of enforcement and prosecution, prevention and protection, which saw Malaysia being ranked in Tier 3 for the second consecutive year.
Hamzah described the assessment as subjective as it was done not only based on information received from the Government of Malaysia, but also from any NGO or CSO.
The minister also refuted the allegation that Malaysia did not have any safe house for human trafficking victims in the northern states of the peninsula when in fact there was an NGO-operated safe house already operational since 2017 in Penang.
Overall, he said there were 10 safe houses or shelters for human trafficking victims in the country, eight of which were under the supervision of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and two others, operated by NGO.
“For the management and operation of the eight government safe houses, an annual allocation of RM5 million has been set aside by the government through the ministry, while for the NGO-operated shelters, RM4.04 million was allocated for the purpose since 2017,” he said.
On the allegation that Victim Assistant Specialist (VAS) was prevented from participating in rescue operations and identifying the victims, Hamzah said it was untrue as VAS appointed among civil servants and NGOs had always been involved in helping the law enforcers.
Apart from being guided by international instruments such as the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime and the UN TIP Protocol, the assessment was also based on the US laws on human trafficking crime, namely the Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000 (TVPA).
The home minister also refuted the allegation that the government had not taken many adequate steps to curb human trafficking, saying that the National Action Plan on Anti-Trafficking in Persons 2021-2025 launched last March was proof of the government’s commitment to tackling the issues of human trafficking in Malaysia.