Malaysia upgraded to Tier 2 in latest Trafficking in Persons report

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has upgraded to Tier 2 in the latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2024 report by the US State Department.

This moves Malaysia up one spot after being in the Tier 2 Watch List category last year.

Malaysia was previously in Tier 3 in 2021 and 2022, which put the country at risk of potential export sanctions.

Countries in Tier 2 are defined as not fully meeting the department’s minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking but making significant efforts to do so.

The report said the Malaysian government demonstrated increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period.

This includes increasing the number of trafficking investigations, including of suspected labour trafficking and convicting more traffickers under the trafficking law.

It pointed out that most traffickers received significant sentences alongside increasing public awareness efforts and prosecuting complicit officials.

“The government convicted significantly more labour traffickers than in the year prior. It also increased the number of trafficking prosecutions, increased funding for victim shelters and the anti-trafficking council,” read the report.

It said the government also facilitated more freedom of movement passes for victims receiving services in government and NGO-run shelters.

Despite the achievements, it said the government did not meet the minimum standards in several areas.

“The government also continued requiring victims to provide statements and participate in investigations and criminal proceedings to be formally identified as a victim and receive protection orders and trafficking-specific services,” it said.

The report added that the government prosecuted fewer traffickers and did not prosecute labour traffickers in the palm oil sector or the disposable glove manufacturing industry despite ongoing reports of trafficking in said sectors.

“Official complicity and corruption undermined anti-trafficking efforts and allowed traffickers to operate with impunity. This increased migrant workers’ vulnerability to trafficking,” it read.

It added that delays in prosecution, insufficient interagency coordination and victim services discouraged foreign victims from remaining in Malaysia to participate in criminal proceedings and continued to hinder successful anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts.

Malaysia falls among Southeast Asian countries such as Brunei, Vietnam, and many other African countries in the Tier 2 watchlist.

Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, and Timor Leste were among the countries that were also categorised in Tier 2 alongside Malaysia in this year's report.

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