Govt urged to hunt down officials involved in human trafficking

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PETALING JAYA: DAP lawmaker Steven Sim today urged the Government to act against human trafficking syndicates and to not only make cosmetic concessions to “please the Americans” for the Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report.

The Government should also tackle the forced labour of foreigners and other abuses against foreign workers, he said.

The Bukit Mertajam MP, and director of local think tank Penang Institute, noted that the US State Department’s latest report placed Malaysia on Tier 2 of the Watch List for the second consecutive year, showing rather clearly that the nation had not improved its position with regard to fighting and eliminating human trafficking, he said in a statement issued today.

Sim also highlighted the “horrifying” treatment of Nepali workers in the country at present, saying, “Just slightly more than two weeks before the report, the Nepali Government said there had been 461 deaths of Nepali workers in Malaysia last year, 32% up from 348 deaths in 2014.

“This makes a horrifying average of nine deaths weekly; there are more Nepali workers dying in Malaysia than there are days in a week!”

An International Labour Organisation (ILO) report showed that the Nepali deaths were due to “poor working conditions, high-level of occupational stress and lack of adequate medical care.”

“The TIP reports through the years have highlighted the plight of legal migrant workers in Malaysia who are ‘subjected to forced labour or debt bondage by their employers, employment agents, or informal labour recruiters,” Sim said.

Sim urged the Government to not just “please the Americans” with cosmetic concessions to the TIP Report, but to deal decisively with “insider syndicates” responsible for human trafficking.

The syndicates mentioned refer to a 2009 report by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the involvement of “insiders” in human trafficking activities in Malaysia, which alleged “Malaysian government officials” as being involved in the “trafficking and extortion of Burmese and other migrants in Malaysia and from Malaysia into Thailand for personal profit.”

“The report referred to these government officials as RELA voluntary corps, immigration and police officers.”

“Despite the massive network of insider syndicates making up to a billion ringgit from human trafficking activities over more than a decade, with law enforcers and deputised citizen corps being implicated in domestic and international investigations, discovery of death camps and mass graves in our northern border, conviction has been very slow,” he said.