How the govt, NGOs and public can act against human trafficking

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The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) recently released its annual report on human trafficking, which aims to educate the public on the issue as well as highlight successful case studies.

The organisation also made a number of recommendations for governments, NGOs and the general public in hopes that they will lead to positive change for victims of human trafficking.

WAO recommends that first and foremost, the Malaysian government ratifies the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; The ILO Domestic Workers Convention 2011; the UN Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees; and the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

The government is also urged to ensure the enforcement of laws and regulations pertaining to domestic workers, and either amend the Employment Act 1955 to cover migrant workers or create separate legislation to protect migrant workers’ rights.

It should also observe all international obligations from treaties that Malaysia is a part of, including to make certain that no child is stateless as being stateless increases one’s vulnerability to being trafficked.

The Malaysian government should also make the law that prohibits employers from withholding passports more strict.

Increasing efforts to investigate and carry out the full judicial process against offenders should also be a priority, as well as rolling out more training for law enforcement and judicial officers so that they’re able to respond more quickly and effectively to trafficking cases.

In efforts to educate the public, WAO recommends that the government organise nationwide campaigns focusing on the issues, which can be supported by NGOs who need to work towards a plan to provide intensive public education.

NGOs require adequate funding from the government to set up shelters and provide necessary support services for victims. This will also allow organisations to increase efforts to educate migrant workers and other vulnerable groups on their working rights and legal options.

NGOs are also encouraged to form active coalitions and to collaborate with one another to advocate for the rights of trafficked victims.

As for the general public, WAO recommends simple human decency – treat all workers, regardless of where they come from, with the same respect you would give to your own peers and co-workers.

Employers should learn their responsibilities and understand that under no circumstances should passports or wages be withheld from an employee against his or her will. Additionally, employers are encouraged to always execute signed contracts that are fully understandable by employees in their own language.