More human trafficking convictions than reported, says law minister’s office

The office of the de facto law minister says Anti-Trafficking in Persons cases are not only heard in a special court but in normal sessions courts as well. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: The number of Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) cases that ended in conviction in 2018 was 115, while between January and July this year there were 23 convictions, the de facto law minister’s office clarified today.

Samantha Chong, the press secretary to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong, said the data on human trafficking case convictions reported by Reuters on Sept 4 was inaccurate and that key information had been left out.

The report had said the country only managed to secure 140 human trafficking convictions between 2014 and 2018, while the government’s special trafficking court only saw eight convictions.

“We regret that the article was written in a way as if there were only eight convictions from March 2018 to August 2019 for ATIP cases in Malaysia.

“The dedication of the Malaysian government in bringing perpetrators to justice and combating human trafficking cannot be measured based on the statistics of a single court,” she said in a statement.

While acknowledging that there was only one special court for human trafficking – in Klang, Selangor – Chong said ATIP cases were also heard in normal sessions courts, a detail she said the report had omitted.

She said the special ATIP court was situated in Klang as it had the highest number of human trafficking cases in the country.

She said the effectiveness of the courts in administering justice could not be measured solely by conviction rates.

“Judges must be free to decide matters before them impartially and in accordance with the assessment of facts presented before them without any restrictions, influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason,” she said.

According to the Global Slavery Index by Walk Free Foundation, Malaysia is home to an estimated 212,000 people trapped in slavery.

The government’s special trafficking court was launched in March last year in a bid to reduce that statistic.