Last Updated: Wednesday, 02 September 2015, 13:52 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malaysia

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 3 June 2005
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malaysia, 3 June 2005, available at: [accessed 2 September 2015]
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 men and women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. As many as several thousand women from Thailand, Indonesia, the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.), Cambodia, and Burma are trafficked to Malaysia for commercial sexual exploitation. Additionally, some economic migrants from Indonesia who work as domestic servants and as laborers in the construction and agricultural sectors face exploitative conditions in Malaysia that meet the definition of involuntary servitude. Malaysian women (primarily of Chinese origin) are trafficked to Western Europe, North America, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan.

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. While the government took some steps to combat trafficking, Malaysia lacks comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation to enable officials to provide adequate victim protection and work effectively at the interagency level to combat trafficking in persons. The Ministry for Women, Family, and Community Development announced in December 2004 the establishment of a dedicated shelter for foreign trafficking victims. The National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) drafted a national action plan on trafficking, though it has not yet been approved by the government. The Malaysian Government should screen illegal migrants detained for immigration violations to identify and provide care for trafficking victims that may be in their midst. The Malaysian Government should draft and enact a comprehensive trafficking law that recognizes trafficked men and women as victims and provides them with shelter, counseling, and assistance in repatriation.


During the reporting period, the Malaysian Government continued efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking-related cases. Malaysia does not have a law that specifically addresses trafficking in persons but uses existing laws to prosecute traffickers. Twenty individuals were convicted under trafficking statutes in the penal code during the first six months of 2004. The penal code criminalizes most of the acts involved in severe forms of trafficking and those laws carry penalties of up to 15 years' imprisonment. In 2004, the government began to use new amendments to the 2001 Anti-Money Laundering Act to seize the assets of businesses involved in illicit activities, including trafficking. The Malaysian Government reported four such seizures in early 2004. Malaysia does not have a witness protection program that would encourage victims to testify against the criminal syndicates that are responsible for much of the trafficking. There were no reported prosecutions of officials complicit in trafficking.


In 2004, Malaysia provided an inadequate level of protection for most victims of trafficking. While police procedure is to send victims who can prove their nationality to embassy shelters rather than immigration detention, many victims, including some who agreed to cooperate in prosecutions, were placed in harsh conditions in immigration detention centers to await deportation. Because the police continued to lack the training and language skills to identify trafficking victims among illegal migrants, foreign trafficking victims often went unrecognized and were treated as immigration offenders. The Malaysian Government has not yet implemented a formal screening process to identify trafficking victims but Suhakam has developed a questionnaire for foreign women arrested for prostitution to identify trafficking victims. In December 2004, the Women's Ministry announced the establishment of a dedicated shelter for foreign trafficking victims, though the shelter has yet to open and care for victims. The Malaysian Government provided training for some of its higher-ranking officials but there was no systematic training program to sensitize front line police and immigration officers on trafficking.


The Malaysian Government continued efforts to prevent trafficking through public awareness or education campaigns. The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), within the government's ruling political coalition, continued to publish warnings about trafficking in its Chinese-language publications, make public statements to caution potential victims about overly lucrative job offers abroad, and hold periodic press conferences highlighting the plight of returned Malaysian trafficking victims. In 2004, Malaysian state-run television ran a documentary on trafficking victims who had been assisted by MCA. The Women's Ministry is planning a nationwide campaign to increase public awareness on trafficking through seminars, workshops, and dissemination of brochures.

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