PUTRAJAYA – A total of 254 cases of human trafficking were taken to court up to June with 67 convictions obtained, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, said of the total convictions, 43 involved human trafficking offences while 24 other offences had human trafficking elements.
“For the period January up to May 2017, the number of arrests recorded was 363,” he said in a statement after chairing the Highest-Level Committee (HLC) on Anti-Human Trafficking and Anti-Human Smuggling and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (MAPO) at Perdana Putra, here today.
The meeting was also attended by the United States Ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lakhdir.
At the meeting, Ahmad Zahid handed over a fund totaling RM1.38 million to the Good Shepherd Welfare Centre and Tenaganita Sdn. Bhd. as the pioneer project for the management of human trafficking victims.
Ahmad Zahid said the government had declared three protection homes for victims of human trafficking in Sabah, Selangor and Penang in implementing the collaboration between the government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
“The government sees the involvement of NGOs in the management of human trafficking victims as a positive development and should be continued to ensure the welfare of victims could continue to be preserved and the responsibility could be shared together,” he said, adding that it was in line with the national commitment to implement the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (ATIPSOM) Act 2007 which came into effect fully in November 2015.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the meeting focused on the achievement of the country in the Annual Report of the State Department of the United States on human trafficking and improvement measures for evaluation for the next year of assessment.
According to the report by the US State Department issued on June 27, Malaysia was at Level 2, which was better than the Level 2 (Observation) in 2016.
Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia was on Level 2 (Observation) on eight occasions as it did not show a significant rise in efforts to check human trafficking crimes compared to the previous years.
However, the country’s position rose to Level 2 this year due to the implementation of significant efforts to comply with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and Trafficking Victim Protection Act 2000 (TVPA), he said.
“This was the result of the strong commitment and consistent efforts demonstrated by members of the HLC MAPO in boosting investigation, prosecution and conviction on human trafficking cases including several improvements in the aspect of victim protection,” he said.
He said Malaysia was confident of maintaining the position in future evaluations, with the cooperation of various parties including the United States to improve prevention, prosecution and protection of victims of human trafficking.
Meanwhile, he said the meeting also took note on the awareness of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons to be held on July 30 every year as contained in the United Nations (UN) resolution in 2013.
Ahmad Zahid said the celebration aimed to raise public awareness on human trafficking crimes and protection of victims.
In this context, he said a cooperation programme between the government and the NGOs would be held on July 30 at the Subang Hi-Tech Industrial Park.
The competition to develop a prototype application on human trafficking and the introduction of the complaint line on human trafficking with the cooperation of the 1Malaysia Call Centre (1MOCC) which is 03-8000 8000 is among the programmes that will be held on that day, he added. – BERNAMA