|Malaysia blacklisted for human trafficking|
|Jun 17, 09 6:29am Malaysiakini.com|
|The United States has put Malaysia back on the blacklist of countries trafficking in people after removing the country from the list last year.
The State Department annual ‘Trafficking in Persons Report 2009’, which examined efforts in more than 173 countries to combat trafficking for forced labour, prostitution, military service and other purposes, has Malaysia sharing the blacklist with 16 countries.
Among the 17 countries on the blacklist are Burma, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.
“Malaysia is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, and for men, women, and children trafficked for the purpose of forced labour,” said the report, which was released by the US State Department today.
Malaysia was elevated from the blacklist in 2008 to the ‘Tier 2′ watch list after plunging into the dreaded ‘Tier 3′ two years ago.
The country was first blacklisted in 2001 but its ranking improved to ‘Tier 2′ in subsequent years until 2007.
In that year, it was relegated to ‘Tier 3’ but last year, the report said “significant efforts being made to comply with minimum standards of combating human trafficking” which resulted in Malaysia being removed from the blacklist.
“Malaysia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, despite some progress in enforcing the country’s new anti-trafficking law,” said the 2009 report.
It said that while the government took initial actions under the 2007 anti-trafficking law against sex trafficking, it has yet to fully address issues of human trafficking.
Refugees ‘sold’ by immigration officials
The report referred to another report by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee two months ago which found the involvement of Immigration Department officials in trafficking Burmese refugees.
According to the report, Malaysian immigration officials sold refugees for approximately US$200 (RM700) per person to traffickers operating along Thailand’s southern border.
“In turn, the traffickers demanded ransom – ranging from US$300 (RM1,000) for children to US$575 (RM2,000) for adults – in exchange for their freedom.
“Informed sources estimated 20 percent of the victims were unable to pay the ransom, and were sold for the purpose of labour and commercial sexual exploitation.”
It said that so far little action has been taken since the released of the Senate foreign relations committee report in April.
“The Malaysian police is investigating the allegations with the cooperation of the Immigration Department, as publicly confirmed by the prime minister but no officials were arrested, prosecuted, or convicted for involvement in trafficking during the reporting period,” it lamented.
Migrant workers victimised
The report is also scathing in describing the country’s treatment of migrant labourers.
“Some migrant workers are victimised by their employers, employment agents, or traffickers who supply migrant labourers and victims of sex trafficking.
“Some victims suffer conditions including physical and sexual abuse, forced drug use, debt bondage, non-payment of wages, threats, confinement, and withholding of travel documents to restrict their freedom of movement.”
The report pointed out that the government continue to condone the confiscation of passports by employers, while employers passed the government’s ‘immigration levy’ on to the low-skilled migrant workers, which facilitated debt bondage.
It also said that women from Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma, Mongolia, and China are forced into prostitution after being lured to Malaysia with promises of legitimate employment.
The report concluded that the government had made only “limited efforts” to prevent trafficking in persons over the last year.
“As a regional economic leader approaching developed nation status, Malaysia has the resources and government infrastructure to do more in addressing trafficking in persons,” said the report.
Could face sanctions
Countries on the blacklist could face sanctions, including the withholding by US of non-humanitarian, non-trade related foreign aid.
They would also be subject to withholding of funding for government officials to participate in educational and cultural exchange programmes.
On a bright note, the report named Malaysia’s Alice Nah as one of its nine 2009 ‘heroes’.
Nah, who is from the Migration Working Group, has raised government and public awareness through online articles describing the plight of trafficking victims, refugees, and migrant workers.
“In January 2009, Nah wrote about the trafficking of Burmese refugees along the Malaysia-Thailand border. Her article increased local and international attention to the issue and raised public awareness within Malaysia,” it said.
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|M’sia, 6 African nations join ‘modern slavery’ list|
|Jun 17, 09 12:15am Malaysiakini.com|
|The United States today added six African countries to a blacklist of countries trafficking in people, and put US trading partner Malaysia back on the list.
Chad, Eritrea, Niger, Mauritania, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe were added to the list in the annual report, which analysed efforts in 173 countries to fight trafficking in humans for forced labor, prostitution, military service and other reasons.
Staying on the blacklist list are US allies Saudi Arabia and Kuwait but also Cuba, Fiji, Iran, Burma, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, and Syria, according to the State Department report for 2009.
Removed from the list were Qatar, Oman, Algeria, and Moldova.
“This is modern slavery, a crime that spans the globe, providing ruthless employers with an endless supply of people to abuse for financial gain,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in introducing the report.
The ‘Trafficking in Persons Report’ said “the global economic crisis is also boosting the demand side of human trafficking.”
The 17 countries on the blacklist could face sanctions, including the withholding of non-humanitarian, non-trade related US aid.
The report said Malaysia fails not only to “fully comply” with minimum standards to eliminate trafficking but “is not making significant efforts to do so.”
Last year the report elevated Malaysia to a “watch list” from the 2007 blacklist after finding that it was “making significant efforts” to comply with such standards.
The new report said that while the government took early steps to fight sex trafficking, it has yet to fully tackle labor trafficking in Malaysia.
It also said there were “credible allegations,” including those in a Senate report this year, that some immigration officials took part in trafficking and extorting refugees from Burma.
Zimbabwe joins rogues’ gallery
Like many African and other poor countries, the report said, Zimbabwe “is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation.”
Some of the many Zimbabweans who fled to neighbouring countries amid Zimbabwe’s severe economic and political crisis faced “human trafficking,” it said.
It charged that members of Zimbabwe’s military were involved in trafficking.
Chad “showed no results in enforcing government policy prohibiting recruitment of child soldiers,” the 320-page report said.
The government of Niger “demonstrated marginal efforts to combat human trafficking, including traditional slavery, during the last year,” it said.
“The government of Mauritania made inadequate efforts to raise awareness of trafficking during the last year,” it added.
Eritrea showed no progress in prosecuting or punishing traffickers, while Swaziland showed no effort to do the same.
Burma shows some progress
The report said Saudi Arabia and Kuwait admit men and women from Asian and African countries to work as domestic servants or other low-skilled laborers, but then subject many to “involuntary servitude.”
It added that Saudi Arabia made “no discernible efforts” to punish or prosecute traffickers, although Kuwait “demonstrated some progress” in punishing them.
North Korea does not recognise or make any attempt to identify trafficking victims, it said. Nor does it make any effort to prosecute perpetrators.
But another longstanding blacklist member Burma showed some progress to fight cross-border trafficking as well as limited efforts to investigate and prosecute internal trafficking, it said.
Fiji, described as a source country for child laborers and prostitutes, showed no significant efforts to protect victims or prosecute perpetrators, it said.