BRUNEI (Tier 2)

Brunei is a destination country for men and women trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Brunei is mainly a destination country for men and women recruited from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, the People's Republic of China (PRC), and Thailand for domestic or low-skilled labor. A limited number of the 88,000 foreign workers in Brunei face poor labor conditions that amount to involuntary servitude. There were credible reports of a limited number of nationals from Asian countries working for little or no pay for up to two years to pay back foreign recruitment agents. Many of the 25,000 female domestic workers in Brunei were required to work exceptionally long hours without being granted a day for rest, creating an environment highly conducive to involuntary servitude. There were isolated instances of women forced into prostitution in Brunei, and there were also isolated reports that women arrested for prostitution attested to having been victims of trafficking.

The Government of Brunei 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 has laws to prosecute trafficking, it did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any offenders of trafficking during the reporting period. The government did not identify any victims of trafficking in 2008.

Recommendations for Brunei: Enforce the 2004 anti-trafficking in persons law by investigating and prosecuting sex trafficking and labor trafficking offenses and convicting and punishing trafficking offenders; adopt a proactive, comprehensive system to formally identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups such as foreign workers and foreign women and children in prostitution; train law enforcement, immigration, and prosecutors on the use of the anti-trafficking law; and implement a visible anti-trafficking awareness campaign directed at employers of foreign workers.


The government did not demonstrate significant anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. The Government of Brunei prohibits sex and labor trafficking in its Trafficking and Smuggling Persons Order of 2004, which prescribes penalties of up to 30 years' imprisonment – penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses; however, there have never been any prosecutions under this order. There were no trafficking cases investigated by Brunei authorities during the reporting period and there were no complaints or allegations of trafficking filed. Foreign workers' complaints of exploitation, such as contract switching and non-payment of salaries, are usually tried under the Labor Act, which carries administrative penalties. The Department of Labor regularly investigates foreign workers' labor complaints such as job switching, salary deductions for recruitment fees, salary based on false promises, and high recruitment fees paid by the prospective employee – though it did not identify any cases of trafficking among them.


Brunei did not demonstrate significant efforts to protect and assist trafficking victims this year. While the Brunei Immigration Department questions foreign workers during immigration raids to identify possible trafficking victims, Brunei does not have a proactive, comprehensive system to formally identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as foreign workers and foreign women and children in prostitution. Although immigration authorities actively identified violators of immigration law, the government did not identify any trafficking victims during the reporting period. Although it is illegal for employers in Brunei to withhold wages of their domestic servants for more than 10 days, a few families are known to withhold wages to compensate for recruitment fees they are charged by overseas recruitment agencies. Most labor laws apply only to citizens of Brunei, and currently fail to protect skilled and unskilled foreign workers from exploitation. While there are no foreign NGOs or international organizations in Brunei to provide victim support, the embassies of several source countries provide shelter, mediation, and immigration support services to their nationals, in coordination with the Brunei government.


Brunei demonstrated limited prevention efforts during the reporting period. In 2008, the Brunei police ran an internal workshop for members of the anti-vice unit on how to identify trafficking victims. Law enforcement officials participate in several regional training programs on trafficking. The government provides arrival briefings for foreign workers, inspects worker facilities, and runs a telephone hotline for worker complaints. It is an offence under the Labor Act for any local agency to charge foreign workers recruitment fees or to withhold a salary to recoup foreign worker processing fees. Although the government forbade wage deductions to agencies or sponsors and mandated that employees receive their full salaries, foreign workers continued to pay high fees to overseas recruitment agents to obtain work in Brunei. During the reporting period, there were 135 complaints by foreign workers against employers who failed to pay salaries. Seventeen of the complaints by domestic workers and 73 of the complaints by workers in other fields were resolved, largely through mediation; the remaining complaints are still under investigation.

The Government of Brunei has not conducted public awareness campaign programs on trafficking. Brunei has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


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