Monday, June 23, 2014

Wisma Putra Disappointed Over US Trafficking In Persons Report 2014

Wisma Putra has expressed disappointment over the United States (US) State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 released in Washington DC on June 20, which downgraded Malaysia to Tier 3 from the previous standing of the Tier 2 Watch List.

It said Malaysia was serious and committed in addressing human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.

"This commitment is manifested through the significant efforts undertaken to improve the existing mechanisms and effectively combat this heinous crime.

"Despite claims that Malaysia made insufficient progress and improvement in areas of prosecution, prevention and protection, on the contrary, Malaysia has consistently pursued measures and initiatives in addressing the issues of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants," it said in a press statement here Sunday.

The US State Department itself, in this 2014 report acknowledged these positive measures in efforts to protect victims, where certain victims of labour trafficking were allowed to reside and work in Malaysia.

"Malaysia believes that information used in the preparation of the Report was flawed, inaccurate and did not reflect measures and steps taken by the respective Malaysian authorities to counter the scourge of trafficking in persons in Malaysia, as a whole.

"We also believe that the source of the information used by the authorities in the United States of America were not credible. Relying on unverified information, provided by dubious organisations, might have led to this conclusion in the Report," Wisma Putra said in the statement.

Malaysia has a long and distinguished record of being temporary home to migrants from the South East Asia region and beyond.

Currently, it is estimated that 35,000 Rohingyas call Malaysia home and Malaysia has done everything permitted under its domestic laws to ease the sufferings of these migrants, with the hope that they would be resettled in a third country or choose to return to their homes when the situation improves.

"While Malaysia has been doing everything expected from a responsible member of the international community to address the issue of trafficking in persons, irrespective of nationality, it should not be expected to carry out a policy of treating migrants better than its own nationals," said the statement.

According to the statement, a new policy, which came into effect on March 1 this year, allows victims of labour trafficking who do not require further care and protection at shelter homes, to work and reside in Malaysia.

Malaysia, in November last year, also launched the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for enforcement agencies as a source of reference.

"This SOP also serves as a guideline for enforcement officers in combating trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants that will eventually lead to increase in criminal convictions.

"In addition to these new measures, in March 2014, the Malaysian Government finalised the establishment of a shelter home in Bandar Sri Damansara, as well as approved seed funding amounting to more than RM800,000 for the operation of the shelter home," noted the statement.

On the bilateral front, Wima Putra said Malaysia had signed memoranda of understanding on transnational organised crime with Bangladesh, Canada, People's Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

"At the regional level, Malaysia through Asean, plays a pivotal role in curbing trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrant the ambit of the main domestic laws relating to trafficking in persons.

"In this light, the US State Department should reconsider its assessment on Malaysia, taking into account the measures that are currently being implemented, including the efforts underlined," said Wisma Putra.

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