The issue of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants are complex issues involving a wide range of stakeholders and actors across the trafficking chain, with multiple modus operandi.

As Malaysia is a popular destination amongst migrant workers for economic reasons or as a transit country, these vulnerable groups are susceptible to becoming victims of sexual and labour trafficking. Complaints regarding human trafficking have constantly been lodged with SUHAKAM over the years. Although it is not an enforcement agency for transnational crimes, SUHAKAM has been acting as a bridge between complainants and enforcement agencies to ensure that immediate and appropriate action is taken on every complaint.

SUHAKAM holds the view that human trafficking and smuggling of migrants should be dealt with great urgency by the relevant authorities. In supporting the country’s effort to combat human trafficking, SUHAKAM has held various dialogues and roundtable discussions with relevant Government agencies and other stakeholders, as well as made submissions to the Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (MAPO) in Malaysia. SUHAKAM also conducts periodic visits to shelters for victims of human trafficking and continues to promote greater awareness among all levels of the society of the danger of human trafficking as well as the importance to ensure the human rights of trafficked victims are guaranteed from the moment they are rescued, and during their rehabilitation and re-integration into society.

SUHAKAM notes with serious concern the U.S. Department of State’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report that Malaysia has been downgraded to Tier 3 Watch List for failing to fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking under the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000 (TVPA), despite two consecutive waivers granted to it in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

Of particular concern to SUHAKAM are the State Department’s findings that Malaysia’s efforts in combating human trafficking in three main aspects namely prosecution, protection and prevention are not sufficient or satisfactory, and that some of those aspects have been consistently highlighted by the Commission in the past.

Given the adverse impact of the downgrade by the State Department, particularly on the country’s human rights records and economic development, SUHAKAM calls on the Government to intensify its effort to prevent and combat human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, as well as to ensure full protection and assistance for trafficked and smuggled victims at all stages, in line with international standards set by the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

See SUHAKAM’s Annual Reports for further details about the Commission’s work in this area.