Published: 1 July 2014
Victims of human trafficking are sent to detention camps while employers and those complicit in human trafficking are not prosecuted a report on human trafficking released by the US said. - July 1, 2014.
The New York Times has criticised Malaysia for its lack of enforcement against human trafficking and stating that the country was "more concerned with helping employers than it is about the welfare of trafficked persons."
In an editorial published yesterday, referring to the United States government's 2014 Trafficking in Persons report, the paper said that unscrupulous employers, recruiters and criminal syndicates operate with near impunity, while trafficking victims are criminalised.
The report released on June 20 stated that the US State Department had downgraded Malaysia to its lowest Tier 3 status. The downgrade puts Malaysia at risk of American economic and diplomatic penalties.
Malaysia joined Thailand, Venezuela and Gambia in the downgrade, thus joining North Korea, Iran, Zimbabwe and 16 other countries as those doing the least to combat human trafficking.
The Malaysian government had protested that it had launched an amnesty programme for undocumented workers – and that it has agreed to share information about migrant workers with six countries, including the United States.
However, according to the NYT, these steps focus on managing illegal immigrants rather than on helping trafficking victims.
The US State Department report cited fewer prosecutions for trafficking violations in Malaysia in 2013 than in 2012, and no investigations, prosecutions or convictions of government employees or recruiters complicit in human trafficking.
Traffickers, unethical employers and corrupt officials in Malaysia have little to risk and much to gain from exploiting trafficking victims, and they know it, the NYT said, adding that for Malaysia to restore its credibility on human trafficking, it must abandon its blame-the-victim approach.
Malaysia needs to change its policies to allow illegal immigrants to travel, work and live outside detention facilities.
Quoting the report, the NYT said that trafficking victims must not be afraid to come forward to seek help. And Malaysia should move swiftly and forcefully to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of human trafficking at every level. – July 1, 2014.