PETALING JAYA: Combating human trafficking is not a priority for Malaysians, said Tenaganita after a Trafficking in Persons report placed Malaysia on a tier-2 watch list for the second year in a row.
Tenaganita programme director Aegile Fernandez (pic) said the placing indicated how much effort Malaysia was making towards stopping human trafficking.
“It’s not a priority agenda for Malaysia. It’s not just the government of the day, but if you look at even the opposition parties, if you look at Malaysians as a whole.
“We seem to turn a blind eye, turn a deaf ear to what is happening,” she said at a press conference commemorating Tenaganita’s 25th anniversary on Friday.
Malaysia was moved out of the lowest rank of Tier 3 to the Tier 2 watchlist in the Trafficking in Persons report in 2015, but failed to move any higher.
The annual report issued by the U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ranks governments based on US perceptions of their efforts to acknowledge and combat human trafficking.
Countries in the Tier 2 watchlist are considered nations that "do not fully meet the minimum standard in eliminating human trafficking"
Fernandez however said that Malaysia cannot be in tier-three of the report as they are a signatory to the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that includes America.
In June last year, the American congress passed a bill that barred them from entering into trade agreements with nations on tier-three of the list.
“It’s all about politics and trade…not the safety of human beings,” said Fernandez adding that businesses should stop just thinking about profits and looked at how they treated both local and migrant workers.
Malaysia is seen mostly as a destination or transit country for trafficking victims, which a large portion of them being put into conditions of forced labour or sex trafficking.
The majority of trafficking victims, said the report, are among the estimated two million documented and more than two million undocumented foreign workers here.“Malaysians cannot keep quiet,” said Fernandez.