KUALA LUMPUR: The integrity of the business community, government officials and the public is crucial in fighting against human trafficking, says Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
The Home Minister said that human trafficking would persist if the business community continued to create demand for trafficked persons and public officials turned a blind eye to it.
He also urged industry players, civil society organisations and government agencies to work collaboratively in educating business owners, public officials and the community about the pitfalls of human trafficking and its adverse impact on the nation.
“While we are conscious of the fact that this heinous crime will not be resolved overnight, we will never relent in our efforts to bust the criminals by using the long arm of the law.
“Our law enforcement officers must always remain steadfast in discharging their duties, in accordance with the rule of law.
“As trafficking is also a cross-border crime which involves other jurisdictions, the Malaysian government will work closely with the authorities in our neighbouring countries to track, monitor and arrest the traffickers, ” he said during a national conference on anti-trafficking persons on Monday (Aug 5).
The conference in conjunction with World Day against trafficking in persons was organised by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti- Smuggling of Migrants Council (MAPO) and Joining Hands Against Modern Slavery (JHAMS).
Muhyiddin said that MAPO has recorded a total of 543 human trafficking victims placed at shelters in the first half of 2019, as compared with 1, 474 victims throughout 2018 and 2, 945 in 2017.
He said they will continue to put more focus on enforcement, prosecution, prevention and protection of trafficked victims.
He said that left unchecked, trafficking provided a conducive ecosystem for labour-intensive and low-skilled industries to remain profitable to business owners.
“As such, there will be little motivation for them to move into capital-intensive industries which creates high-skilled and high paying employments, ” he said.
Malaysia stayed in the Tier 2 Watch List in the 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report produced by the US State Department.
In the 2017 TIP report, Malaysia was upgraded to Tier 2 from the Tier 2 Watch List but slipped back to the watch list last year.
Between 2006 and 2018, Malaysia was classified as Tier 2 Watch List nine times.
Countries in Tier 2 are those that do not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to meet those standards.
The Tier 2 Watch List is similar to Tier 2, but with three additional criterias, including the failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts, or where the number of victims is significant or increased.