Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 14:07 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malaysia

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malaysia, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Malaysia (Tier 2)

Malaysia is a destination and to a lesser extent a source and transit country for trafficking for sexual exploitation. Foreign trafficking victims come from Indonesia, Thailand, China, the Philippines, and Uzbekistan. On a smaller scale, Malaysian women (mostly ethnic Chinese) are trafficked to Japan, Canada, the United States, Australia and Taiwan for sexual exploitation. Some clandestine transiting may take place through the country's international airports.

The Government of Malaysia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government acknowledges that trafficking is a problem and enacts most of its anti-trafficking measures in the context of its fight against illegal migration. Malaysia needs to pass a comprehensive anti-trafficking law to enable officials to deal with the problem. Malaysia recognizes that anti-trafficking measures require a multilateral approach, and its growing cooperation with Indonesia is an important step. Officials are only slowly recognizing the importance of foreign victim protection.


The government provides funding to NGOs, which inform Malaysian women of the dangers of sex trafficking. Government ministries provide direct job training assistance in rehabilitation centers to young Malaysian women considered at risk of falling into prostitution.


Malaysia has not passed a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Existing criminal and security statutes can be applied against traffickers, but most traffickers are prosecuted as smugglers under the immigration statute and as a result receive only fines or light sentences. Immigration officials have stepped up border security measures and are scrutinizing foreign visa applicants more closely to look for potential trafficking victims. Petty corruption is a problem, but the government is engaged in removing corrupt officials and police officers. The Home Affairs Ministry established an inter-agency task force to crack down on criminal offenses involving vice, including trafficking. Malaysia signed an agreement with the Philippines and Indonesia to cooperate on transnational crimes, including trafficking in persons, and will initiate law enforcement contact with its neighbors. Special cooperation is underway between the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the Indonesian state of Kalimantan.


The government provides extensive funding for NGOs in Malaysia working generally to assist Malaysian women; however, because the scope of the trafficking problem is small, relatively few of these women are trafficking victims. Overseas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides assistance to Malaysian victims trafficked abroad. In Malaysia, the government applies a lower standard of protection for foreign trafficking victims who are generally treated as immigration offenders, often detained and held for up to several months before deportation. They are released to the care of shelters or foreign consulates in the minority of cases when the government clearly identifies them as bona fide trafficking victims and not economic migrants. Malaysian officials are not trained in assisting foreign trafficking victims; operationally, officials continue to define trafficking narrowly and treat victims as accessories.

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