Fighting trafficking a challenge in Malaysia
PENANG, 20 September 2010 (UCAN)—Malaysia is becoming a key transit point as well as destination for global human trafficking activities, a workshop learnt recently.
The country’s Anti-Trafficking In Persons Act only came into force in February 2008 and many weaknesses still remain in implementing it, said Dusuki Mokhtar, deputy prosecutor at the Malaysian Attorney General’s Chambers.
He was speaking to 50 Church and NGO workers at a Sept. 18 workshop in Penang. The Penang Office for Human Development (POHD), run by the diocese, jointly organized the event together with national and international NGOs.
Although Malaysia has tried 160 human trafficking cases and convicted 16 people since 2008, enforcement officers’ lack of skills and victims’ reluctance to cooperate are obstacles to fully implementing the law, he said.
Dusuki said an amendment to the law will come into effect shortly, which includes having the labor department act as an enforcement agency in addition to the police, immigration and maritime authorities.
He noted that most human trafficking cases involve forced labor by migrant workers.
POHD officer Joachim Francis Xavier added that employment agencies can cancel the work permits of trafficked workers at any time, thus forcing them to leave the country immediately. This hinders the conviction of traffickers.
Workshop participants also warn that because of the great number of trafficking victims, the few shelters for them could be overwhelmed.
The workshop achieved its purpose in generating awareness of the human trafficking situation in Malaysia, Xavier said.
The POHD’s role is to empower Catholic individuals and parishes as well as work with NGOs in combating the problem in the country, he added.
Other NGOs involved in organizing the workshop included the UNHCR, Tenaganita and the Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia.