Leaders of 11 faiths pledge to fight modern slavery

Source: FMT News

The religious groups will talk to people and help identify possible human trafficking victims. Pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite Malaysia improving its position in the United States’ Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, the threat is real and many have fallen victim to modern slavery.

In Malaysia alone, 128,800 people are living in modern slavery as result of human trafficking, according to The Global Slavery Index this year.

In the wake of the alarming human trafficking issue in Malaysia, many efforts have been undertaken by the government together with human rights NGOs to combat human trafficking locally and regionally.

In solidarity with millions of women, men and children who are trafficked and enslaved, 11 faith leaders from different religions in Malaysia today signed an inter-faith joint declaration against human trafficking. Read more

Malaysia was upgraded in the US trafficking chart. Here’s why critics say it was undeserved

Source: Asian Correspondent

IN May 2015, screaming headlines confirmed the discovery of 139 bodies buried in the jungles of Wang Kelian in the Malaysian state of Perlis, not far from the Thai border.

The graves revealed a hidden network of jungle camps used by traffickers to hold their captives as they negotiated payment terms and ransom demands. In the graves were mostly the bodies of Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in neighbouring Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladeshis, two races that routinely fall victim to trafficking on this side of the world.

The grim find followed a similar discovery of 32 shallow graves just weeks prior in Thailand, in what was described as a “waiting area” for illegal migrants before they are sent across the border to Malaysia. Read more

Tier 2 is Malaysia’s best so far, says ministry

Source: The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s upgrade to Tier 2 in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2017 is the best ranking achieved by the nation since 2007, said Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim.

In a statement yesterday, Alwi said the upgrade was based on the improvements in investigation, prosecution and charging of human trafficking cases here compared to previous years.

“This achievement is a result of integrated commitment shown by the Anti-Human Trafficking and Anti-Migrant Smuggling Council (Mapo) through its high-level committee, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.

“Malaysia has also improved national initiative by actively involving non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to protect victims following amendments to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act in 2015,” he said.

According to Alwi, Malaysia sentenced 35 individuals for human trafficking offences last year, compared with seven the year before. Read more

Tier 1 in trafficking report not possible without immigration reform — Steven Sim

Source: FMT News

By Steven Sim

The annual US State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report was released yesterday.

Malaysia improved our position from “Tier 2 Watch List”, where we were since 2015, to “Tier 2” this year.

The last time we were in Tier 2 was 13 years ago in 2004 when the government amended the Anti-Money Laundering Act to enable the seizure of assets linked to trafficking activities.

Thus, it is clear that when there are significant actions by the federal government, our ranking in the TIP Report does indeed improve.

With regards to this, kudos to the federal government and agencies involved for the improved efforts in combating human trafficking.

However, we must not celebrate just yet.

The definition of Tier 2 is: “Countries whose governments DO NOT fully comply with the minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.”

In other words, Malaysia still has not complied with international standards to fight human trafficking. Read more

US human trafficking report a farce, says Santiago

Source: FMT News

PETALING JAYA: A DAP MP has criticised the United States’ Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report following Malaysia’s improved rating for the second consecutive year although no significant action has been taken since the discovery of human trafficking camps and mass graves near the Malaysia-Thailand border two years ago.

In the recently released 2017 TIP report, Malaysia was upgraded from the Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2.

Last year, Malaysia was upgraded to the Tier 2 Watch List from Tier 3, at a time when the US was pushing the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that would have included Malaysia and 10 other countries.

Speaking to FMT, Charles Santiago said the TIP report has become a farce driven by political objectives.

He said it was a “major disservice” to the fight against human trafficking.

“It has been two years since the discovery of the migrant camps and mass graves in Wang Kelian in Perlis, yet no Malaysian nationals have been convicted and the report acknowledges this,” added the Klang MP. Read more

To achieve top tier, stop criminalising trafficking victims, watchdog tells Putrajaya

Source: The Malay Mail Online

AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu urges the government to swiftly carry out impartial probes on the alleged torture which she said may have caused the deaths of detainees. — Picture by Siow Saw Feng

AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said there are still many issues that Putrajaya needs to address when it comes to human trafficking — Picture by Siow Saw Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 ― Malaysia should stop treating human trafficking victims as criminals if it wishes to be promoted to the top tier in the United States’ annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, Amnesty International said today.

The human rights watchdog’s executive director Shamini Darshini said there are still many issues that Putrajaya needs to address when it comes to human trafficking, despite its status upgrade from Tier 2 Watch List to just Tier 2.

“If Malaysia wishes to achieve Tier 1 status in 2020 as announced by the Prime Minister this afternoon, not treating trafficked victims as criminals would be a good place to start,” she said in a statement, referring to Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The watchdog said many trafficked victims are held in “horrendous” detention centres, facing death, illness and diseases, and denial of basic rights including water. Read more

Rights group criticises US after Malaysia upgraded on human trafficking list

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division. — AP File Pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — The US State Department’s move to drop Malaysia from its people smuggling watch list yesterday belies the latter’s “mediocre” efforts in the area, according to the Human Rights Watch.

HRW’s deputy director for Asia Phil Robertson complained that Malaysia made no effort to identify the different categories of people smuggling, which allowed debt-bonded foreign workers to escape classification as victims of human trafficking.

Other problems such as overcrowded detention facilities, failure to institute the “moderate” reforms promised, and corruption among enforcement officials made further mockery of Malaysia’s removal from the department’s Tier 2 Watch List in its latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, he added.

“For the second year in a row, it’s no exaggeration to say the section on Malaysia undermines the credibility of TIP report,” he said in a statement. Read more

Malaysia climbs out of Tier 2 watch list in US human trafficking chart

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Malaysia joins Muslim-majority neighbours Indonesia and Brunei, which were similarly ranked as the worst freedom of thought offenders in the Southeast Asian region. — AFP pic

Malaysia has climbed out of the Tier 2 watch list in the United States annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released last night. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 ― Malaysia has slightly upgraded its position in the United States annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released last night, climbing out of the Tier 2 Watch List.

Despite that, the Southeast Asian country still remains in the Tier 2 for the third year in a row since it was promoted from the bottom tier in 2015.

“The Government of Malaysia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.

“The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Malaysia was upgraded to Tier 2,” said the report.

Malaysia was upgraded from the bottom tier, Tier 3, to the Tier 2 Watch List in 2015’s TIP report, but the decision was criticised as an ostensible move to allow Malaysia to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement with the US, as the latter imposes an automatic non-aid and non-trade sanction on countries at the bottom tier. Read more

Positive steps to end human trafficking — M. Saravanabavan

Source: NST Online

BY M. SARAVANABAVAN

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