PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s downgrade in the US State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2014 does not reflect the Government’s commitment to combat the crime, the Home Ministry said in a statement.
It also pointed out that Malaysia had been on the TIP tier 2 watch list for the last four years and had fallen automatically to tier 3.
“Malaysia was exempted for two years, in 2012 and 2013, and the US government only gives a waiver for two years,” the statement said yesterday.
Despite initiatives by Malaysia, the main criticism in the June 20 report had been about protection for victims.
The statement said that in March, Malaysia allocated RM801,000 to establish a shelter home, where victims had access to medical treatment.
The pilot project was a collaboration with a non-governmental organisation which managed the daily operations.
The statement said the Government was working towards gazetting the shelter and the volunteers as protection officers. It is also considering opening more homes.
Another significant step by Malaysia was the policy which allowed victims of labour trafficking, who did not require protection, to work in the country.
“This is an interim measure until the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 is amended. Under the current law all victims trafficked for sexual exploitation or labour have to be placed in shelters.”
These initiatives still fell short of US requirements for victims to be granted freedom of movement, to be allowed to work and live outside shelters.
The TIP 2014 report also criticised the fact that the passports of foreign labourers are held by companies and the practice of outsourcing workforce had contributed to human trafficking in Malaysia.
The statement said Malaysia had frozen all applications for foreign workers via outsourcing since 2011 while a memorandum of understanding signed with Indonesia allowed for domestic workers to keep their own passports.
The ministry also pointed out that the Government was constantly improving the mechanisms for the entry of foreign workers into the country to curtail cases of exploitation.