By Adrian Lim
KUCHING, July 5: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) urges the government to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) following Malaysia’s downgrade to Tier Three in the United States’ 2021 Trafficking in Person (TIP) Report which claimed that the country did not do enough to address the allegations of human trafficking.
Suhakam in a press statement today said that it is very concerned with the TIP Report which stated that Malaysia has failed to fully meet the minimum standard for the elimination of trafficking in persons and not making significant efforts to ensure compliance.
“The TIP Report highlighted that the government continues to conflate human trafficking and migrant smuggling crimes and did not adequately address the allegations of human trafficking.
“In view of the gravity of the Tier Three status, Suhakam urges the government to establish a RCI pursuant to the TIP Report and focus its attention on implementation of the recommendations.
“For long term measures to be successful, the government is encouraged to have discussions with the relevant stakeholders including non-governmental organisations (NGOs),” it said.
Suhakam also called on the government to make public the report and recommendations of the Special Independent Committee on Foreign Worker Management and to expedite implementation of the recommendations which considered issues of unethical, unhealthy and unfair practices in the recruitment of foreign workers.
Those include the need to make workers recruitment transparent by introducing an end-to-end online system for hiring foreign workers.
Suhakam also urged the government to increase the law enforcement capacity to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases, including by improving inter-agency coordination, to ensure successful efforts to prosecute traffickers.
“The relevant government agencies need to increase their level of seriousness to manage forced labour issues, especially those alleged in the plantation and rubber manufacturing sectors.
“Corrupt officials involved in this dark economy must be made criminally accountable as they are conduits that have permitted this corruption fuelled system to thrive,” it added.
Apart from that, Suhakam called on the government to intensify its efforts to prevent as well as to take the lead to combat human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
This is to ensure full protection and assistance for trafficked and smuggled victims at all stages, in line with international standards set by the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, being a protocol to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.
“Suhakam would also like to take this opportunity to call on the government to release the report and findings of the RCI’s investigation of the human trafficking camps and graves in Wang Kelian,” it added.
Meanwhile, Suhakam supported the government’s proposal to amend the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 to provide amongst others, stricter punishment as part of efforts to curb human trafficking activities by syndicates in Malaysia.
It opined that a definition of forced labour should also be included as part of the amendment.
It also urged the government to amend the current labour laws to ensure the rights of workers are adequately safeguarded.
On the other hand, Suhakam reiterated the call by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah for Parliament to be reconvened as soon as possible.
Furthermore, Suhakam noted that the Malaysian Border Security Agency (AKSEM) is now placed under the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) to ensure strengthened border security management.
The government statutory body hoped that the restructuring plan would facilitate the government’s initiatives to ensure effective measures are in place especially, to deal with issues faced by porous borders and related issues of corruption. — DayakDaily