Last Updated: Friday, 22 August 2014, 15:07 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malaysia

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 5 June 2006
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malaysia, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d89d3.html [accessed 23 August 2014]
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 Watch List)

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. Foreign trafficking victims, mostly women and girls from the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.), Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam are trafficked to Malaysia for commercial sexual exploitation. Some economic migrants from countries in the region 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. Some Malaysian women, primarily of Chinese ethnicity, are trafficked abroad for sexual exploitation.

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. Malaysia is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking, particularly its failure to provide protection for victims of trafficking. The Malaysian Government needs to demonstrate clearer political will to tackle Malaysia's significant sex and labor trafficking problems; its leaders have yet to articulate publicly a comprehensive policy for addressing trafficking. Some commitments made by Malaysian officials in 2004 and 2005 went unfulfilled. Although Malaysia has criminal statutes that allow it to punish elements of trafficking, Malaysia lacks comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that would enable officials to identify and shelter victims and to prosecute traffickers under a single criminal statute. The Government did not establish a government-run shelter for foreign trafficking victims that the Minister for Women, Family and Community Development announced publicly in December 2004. The government continued to arrest, incarcerate, and deport foreign trafficking victims. A national action plan on trafficking drafted by the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and published in early 2005 has not been adopted. The Malaysian Government must take measures to enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, strengthen its law enforcement efforts against traffickers and any public officials who may be involved in trafficking, implement policies and practices that recognize trafficked men and women as victims, and provide protection for trafficking victims. The government should provide training to law enforcement officials who come into contact with at-risk populations – such as undocumented migrant laborers and foreign women in prostitution – to enable them to identify and care for victims of trafficking.

Prosecution

The Malaysian Government made limited efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases in 2005. Malaysia does not have a law that specifically addresses trafficking in persons. The Malaysian Government uses existing laws, including the Penal Code to prosecute traffickers. Malaysian law criminalizes most of the acts involved in severe forms of trafficking and carries penalties of up to 15 years' imprisonment. During 2005, 15 individuals were convicted under the Penal Code. During the first nine months of 2005, Malaysian law enforcement arrested over 4,600 foreign females for prostitution. According to interviews conducted by Suhakam in previous years, a significant number of these are women who were probable trafficking victims; hundreds of minor girls were also found in detention. 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 investigations or prosecutions of officials for trafficking-related corruption.

Protection

During the reporting period, the Malaysian Government provided minimal assistance to victims of trafficking. The government provides no shelter, care, counseling, or rehabilitation specifically for victims of trafficking. The government does not fund NGOs specifically to provide services to trafficking victims, although it does fund NGOs that provide services to trafficking victims as part of a broader mandate. The government has not fulfilled its December 2004 commitment to open a dedicated shelter for foreign trafficking victims. Malaysian law does not codify the difference between trafficking victims, illegal migrants, and asylum seekers. Because Malaysian law enforcement officials often lack the training and language skills required to screen trafficking victims from illegal migrants, foreign trafficking victims are often not recognized as victims and are treated as immigration offenders. Foreign trafficking victims, including those who agreed to cooperate in prosecutions, were placed in overpopulated and unsanitary conditions in immigration detention centers to await deportation. The Malaysian Government has not yet implemented a formal screening process to identify trafficking victims. The 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.

Prevention

Malaysia supports some trafficking prevention programs. Efforts to prevent trafficking through public awareness or education campaigns were conducted primarily by the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a political party in the governing coalition. The MCA 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.

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