PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahidi said Malaysia has recorded 100 convictions of human trafficking-related cases last year, compared to only seven in 2015.
He said this was a vast improvement in terms of the country's seriousness in protecting victims of human trafficking activities.
Zahid said as for this year - from Jan 1 to March 31 - a total of 13 convictions involving human trafficking-related cases have been recorded.
“These are drastic increases in the protection of the victims through the collaboration between government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
“The government has agreed to appoint 12 individuals from NGOs as protection officers for the victims of human trafficking. Previously, the task was given to the protection officers from Women's and Community Development Department.
“The government has also agreed to collaborate with qualified NGOs to operate the Protection Home for human trafficking victims starting this month.
"The victims were previously placed at the government protection homes under the Women, Family and Community Ministry,” Zahid said in a statement released after chairing the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants High Level Committee meeting, today.
Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said the decision was made in line with the amended Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (ATIPSOM) Act 2007 which was passed in the parliament in July 2015 and fully enforced in Nov 2015.
He said the government also congratulated the ATIPSOM Task Force for carrying out the joint operations at the bird’s nest cultivation factory in Klang on March 28. The operations involved the police, the Immigration Department and Labour Department.
It was reported that in the incident, a 29-year-old Datuk was arrested for allegedly forcing workers to work without rest days.
Authorities who raided the man’s factory in Jalan Pasar found that its workers were forced to work long hours and without rest days.
A total of 172 factory workers, comprising 152 from Indonesia, three from Myanmar and 17 locals were detained.
“The government has agreed to extend the period of the task force operations until Dec 2018,” he said.
Zahid said Malaysia welcomed the continued support and cooperation from the United Stated ambassador in the efforts to combat human trafficking cases.
“Malaysia hopes that such a cooperation will improve the country’s initiatives to fight the trafficking in persons crime, and to help the country to improve its position in this year’s US Department of State Report for trafficking in persons,” he said.
The meeting was attended by ministers, deputy ministers and head of departments who are the members of Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Council.
The meeting focused on the country’s achievement in the critical aspects suggested by the United States, in view with the upcoming US Department of State Report which is expected to be announced middle of the year. The aspects include the important components to combat human trafficking such as policy, prevention, enforcement, prosecution and victims’ protection.