Malaysia fails to improve in anti-human trafficking watchlist

KUALA LUMPUR: For the second consecutive year, Malaysia remained on the United States watchlist on human trafficking, while two Asean countries were upgraded in the ranking.

US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun (pic) said while Malaysia has made progress in passing amendments to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act to include better protection for victims, much of these changes have not been enforced.

Malaysia was bumped out of the lowest rank of Tier 3 to the Tier 2 watchlist in the Trafficking in Persons report in 2015, but failed to move any higher.

Countries in the Tier 2 watchlist are considered nations that “do not fully meet the minimum standard in eliminating human trafficking”.

Malaysia shares its rank with Thailand and Laos.

The Philippines was upgraded to Tier 1 after spending five years in Tier 2, while Thailand moved out of the blacklist to Tier 2.

Malaysia’s conviction rate of human traffickers was also menial, with only seven cases last year.

Yun believes this does not reflect the magnitude of the trafficking problem here.

“We are quite deeply concerned about the human trafficking situation in Malaysia.

“Over the last 12 months I would characterise the progress in Malaysia as quite uneven,” Yun told press conference at the embassy on Friday.

Malaysia is seen mostly as a destination or transit country for trafficking victims, which a large number put in conditions of forced labour or sex trafficking.

The report said the majority of trafficking victims were among the estimated two million documented and over two million undocumented foreign workers here.