Positive steps to end human trafficking — M. Saravanabavan

Source: NST Online


HUMAN trafficking is one of organised crime’s most lucrative markets. The size of its annual trade ranks only behind illicit drugs and arms markets. The offence involves the transport of victims, usually between states. It has always been a concern for the international community. The term human trafficking covers the movement of victims for sexual and labour exploitation as well as moving them for organised crime, including pickpocketing, begging and cannabis cultivation.

The definition of trafficking has undergone developments in the international arena and now is codified in the Palermo Protocol, which provides a detailed, internationally accepted meaning.

Incentives have been offered by the international community to tackle the issue, but this is exacerbated by globalisation and expanding borders.

In the recently released United States’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, Malaysia was deemed to be in Tier 2 of the watch list. Countries in Tier 2 are considered those that “do not fully meet the minimum standard in eliminating human trafficking”. The minimum standards were stipulated in the Palermo Protocol, which was passed in 2000. Read more

Still on Tier Two until we step it up

Source: The Star Online

IN her 15 years as Assistant United States Attorney in Georgia, Susan Coppedge prosecuted more than 45 human traffickers in federal cases involving transnational and domestic sex trafficking of adults and children, and labour trafficking. The prosecutions assisted more than 90 victims of trafficking.

It seemed only fitting that she was appointed Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to lead the US’ global engagement against human trafficking in 2015. Freeing victims, preventing trafficking, and bringing traffickers to justice are the ultimate goals of the US government’s anti-human trafficking policy and its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.

“Coming on board the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP office), the non-criminalisation of victims was very important to me. I’ve talked about that with every government I have travelled to meet with,” says Ambassador Coppedge who was in Malaysia recently to speak to our government officials about increasing efforts to combat human trafficking in the region.

She adds, labour trafficking is another issue she has been working hard to highlight around the world as “it is sometimes harder to find than sex trafficking cases and harder for law enforcement and judges to understand.”

In the recent 2016 TIP Report – which looks at the governmental efforts of 188 countries to confront and eliminate human trafficking – Malaysia remained in the Tier Two Watchlist. In her interview with Sunday Star, Ambassador Coppedge talks about how Malaysia can increase its efforts to curb human trafficking in the country while taking the victims’ experience into consideration. Read more

Obama claims positive relationship between Trans-Pacific Partnership and human rights in Malaysia

Source: Politifact
First published on August 5, 2016

Trying to rally support for the oft-criticized Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Barack Obama said it will go a long way to improving human rights conditions across the globe.

Specifically, he said during a press conference with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Loong, it will curb human trafficking in Malaysia.

“The same is true for things like human trafficking, where we’ve got a country like Malaysia taking really serious efforts to crack down on human trafficking,” Obama said. “Why? Because TPP says you need to.”

We’ve rated two other claims from this press conference (a Mostly True on tariff cuts and a Half True on Vietnamese labor rights). Here, we look at the situation on the ground in Malaysia. Read more

U.S. lawmakers say Malaysia, India trafficking ratings may be too high

Source: Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds a copy of the 2016 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report during the TIP Heroes Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE/FILE PHOTO

U.S. lawmakers said on Tuesday they were concerned that Malaysia and India were rated too favourably in this year’s State Department human trafficking report although the report seemed less influenced by politics than last year’s.

The U.S. Department of State’s closely watched annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report was released on June 30.

After last year’s report provoked a firestorm of controversy, the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees held hearings on Tuesday to review this year’s findings.

A low ranking is a black mark on a country’s reputation and can subject a government to sanctions limiting access to aid from the United States, the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank.

Last year, members of Congress and human rights groups said some countries’ ratings were changed for political reasons.

For example, over the objections of State Department experts, Malaysia was upgraded in 2015, despite authorities’ discovering mass graves of trafficking victims and rights groups’ reporting continued forced labor in its palm oil, construction and electronics industries.

On Tuesday, lawmakers again questioned why Malaysia had not been downgraded. “It’s hard to understand that they’ve made progress in 2016,” Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said. Read more

NGO Slams Malaysia’s Anti-Human Trafficking Record

Source: BenarNews

A police officer patrols through an abandoned camp used by human traffickers in a jungle in the Malaysian northern state of Perlis, which borders Thailand, AFP pic, May 26, 2015.

Malaysia needs to do much more to stop human trafficking and modern-day slavery, says the head of a local NGO that has worked for 25 years to champion rights for migrants and refugees as well as expose abuses against them.

“The crime of human trafficking is a major problem in this country, as Malaysia does not have a good system that protects immigrants, refugees and those who have been manipulated or abused,” Tenaganita Director Glorene Das told BenarNews,

“Nobody wants to be a victim of human trafficking, illegal immigration … [or] being treated like garbage and enslaved without any human rights protection,” she said.

Tenaganita and other NGOs have criticized the Malaysian government for allegedly not doing enough to shield people who are trafficked into the country from being exploited or abused in other ways on Malaysian soil, and who are among an estimated population of two million undocumented foreign migrants in the country. Read more

Trafficking in persons report: Looking beyond the rankings — Joseph M Paul

Source: FMT


Ranked on Tier 2 of the TIP Report, Malaysia has yet to “demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period”.

The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which is issued annually by the US State Department’s Office ranks governments based on US perceptions of their efforts to acknowledge and combat human trafficking.

The TIP report gives an indication of the state of human trafficking in the country and the government’s efforts in combating it. The rankings are sometimes controversial, with allegations that political and trade considerations influence the ranking that is accorded to a country. For example, in 2015 when Malaysia’s ranking went up one notch from Tier 3 (the worst case) to Tier 2 in the Watch List, many viewed it as a concession by the US government to enable Malaysia to become party to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

While the rankings may be subjective and susceptible to influence by trade and political considerations, it is worthwhile to study the contents of the report (which are more factual) to obtain an indication of the areas where improvements are needed.

The TIP report 2016 states quite bluntly that “the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period”. The key areas of concern highlighted in the TIP report are as follows: Read more

James Nayagam slams lack of progress on human trafficking

Source: The Star Online

Filepic of illegal Bangladesh and Myanmar Rohingya refugees in a Royal Malaysian Navy ( RMN ) marine police boat at the jetty Langkawi. – Bernama

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has not done enough to combat human trafficking in the country, says human rights activist James Nayagam.

Speaking on the 2016 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report of the United States, Nayagam said that Malaysia does not deserve its recent Tier 2 Watch List ranking.

“To be honest, I think Malaysia deserves a Tier 3 ranking (the lowest rank) because we are not moving forward fast enough,” he said, adding that human trafficking is still a big problem in the country.

However, Nayagam said that the reason why Malaysia cannot be in the Tier 3 watchlist is because they are a signatory to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

In June last year, the American congress passed a bill that barred them from entering into trade agreements with nations on tier-three of the list.

“This proves that the report has lost its taste, there’s no bite,” said Nayagam.

Read more

Trade or Human Rights? Integrity of State Department Trafficking Report Still an Open Question — Charlie Fanning

Source: AFL-CIO


06/30/2016. The State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report is a powerful tool to hold governments accountable for their failures to prevent human trafficking. The report ranks governments worldwide into one of three tiers based on their efforts to combat and prevent trafficking and forced labor, with the lowest ranking of tier three carrying economic sanctions. The release of the 2016 report has been met with mixed reviews from labor and anti-trafficking groups.

In recent years, the administration has politicized the ranking of certain countries to fit its trade and economic agenda rather than prioritizing people’s right to live in freedom. Last year, after the State Department upgraded Malaysia—a potential Trans-Pacific Partnership trading partner—from tier three, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said: “The administration appears to be resolute in forging a flawed trade agreement with countries that currently violate fundamental labor and human rights.”

This year, the administration doubled down on the mistake and failed to downgrade Malaysia, despite reports that grueling working conditions for migrant workers remain the norm. Indeed, the Nepal Embassy recently reported that some 2,945 Nepalese migrant workers died on the job in Malaysia in the past 10 years—an average of nearly one worker per day. Read more

Malaysia remain in the Tier 2 Watch List in the latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2016 by the US State Department

June 30, 2016

MALAYSIA: Tier 2 Watch List

Malaysia is a destination and, to a much lesser extent, source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and women and a small number of children subjected to sex trafficking. The majority of trafficking victims are among the estimated two million documented and an even greater number of undocumented migrant laborers in Malaysia. Foreign workers—primarily from Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Nepal, India, Burma, and other Southeast Asian countries—typically migrate voluntarily to Malaysia to pursue better economic opportunities. Some of these migrants are subjected to forced labor or debt bondage by their employers, employment agents, or informal labor recruiters when they are unable to pay the fees for recruitment and associated travel. Foreign workers employed by outsourcing or contract labor companies, which may or may not have oversight of personnel issues or day-to-day working conditions, have heightened vulnerabilities to exploitative labor conditions and a reduced ability to resolve disputes. Agents in labor source countries may impose onerous fees on workers before they arrive in Malaysia, in some cases causing debt bondage. Foreign workers in Malaysia and the companies which employ them are subject to a range of government fees for immigration processing, foreign worker levies, and other administrative processes. The law allows many of the fees, which are initially paid by employers, to be deducted from workers’ wages, incentivizing employers to prevent workers from ending their employment before fees are recouped. Government regulations placed the burden of paying some immigration and employment authorization fees on foreign workers; this practice makes workers more susceptible to debt bondage. Authorities report organized crime syndicates are responsible for some instances of trafficking. Corruption among immigration and police officers remains a problem and impedes efforts to address trafficking. Read more

As Obama heads to Malaysia, human trafficking stance questioned

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Rohingya people being transported in an immigration truck. There have been concerns by US State Department experts that people who already suffered at the hands of human smugglers and traffickers faced more problems and abuse at Malaysia’s immigration detention facilities. – Reuters pic, November 20, 2015.

Inus Abul Baser, an 18-year-old from Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority, believed he had escaped the worst when he managed to buy his freedom from human traffickers in Thailand and enter Malaysia in search of security and work.

But within weeks, he was cooped up in a filthy, overcrowded detention centre near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, squatting or sleeping on the floor in a hall with scores of other men.

During his fourth month, wardens ordered them not to move or talk, he says, and beat them with belts if they did.

“There was no rest. You couldn’t sit or lie down without touching someone else,” he said, pointing to a welt on his forearm that he says he received when a guard beat him for arguing with another detainee over space. Read more