In Malaysia, victims of trafficking are often treated like criminals.
Analysts claim human trafficking is rife on every continent on the globe; present in almost every country and, according to the recent annual report of the US State Department onTrafficking in Persons (TIP), the situation in Malaysia paints a grim picture.
Malaysia is mainly a destination country of trafficking for the purposes of prostitution and labor — manual or domestic — from countries in South and Southeast Asia. Victims may be held forcefully by their “employers” or have been compelled to stay in their situations through duress — methods such as threats of reporting them to the police, keeping their passports, and holding persons in debt bondage are common.
The US TIP aims to monitor and rank the progress of countries according to efforts they are making to combat the crime. So for the Southeast Asian federal constitutional monarchy, is the situation getting better? Lacking in statistics and efforts to monitor the situation, it is hard to say. A number of improvements have been cited such as implementation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) statute, regional partnership agreements, and a national action plan to tackle human trafficking.
However, the 2013 report says more needs to be done. What is apparent is that prosecutions have been ramped up against those complicit in trafficking, but this has not translated into more convictions.
While the identification of traffickers and, subsequently, the rescue of victims is a good thing, there is much criticism of the way victims are treated and the care they receive. Apart from the humane aspects of their immediate situation, victims constitute a key part of the prosecutorial process and their cooperation can be harnessed for law enforcement purposes.