Friday, August 28, 2009

US, Malaysia To Cooperate In Combating Trafficking In Persons

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 (Bernama) -- The United States and Malaysia are taking their cooperation in combating trafficking in persons to a higher level, where the two countries now plan to undertake joint training programmes and exchange experience.

Director of the US State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Luis CdeBaca (rpt CdeBaca), said that in this context, a team of experts would be coming to Malaysia in October to assist Malaysian authorities in the strengthening of enforcement.

He said that like the US, Malaysia too was facing problems in combating human trafficking.

"There are positive signs and we are looking forward to working with the government of Malaysia," he told a news conference here on Thursday.

CdeBaca arrived here yesterday for a two-day visit and met officials from the Foreign Ministry, Home Ministry as well as the Attorney General's (AG) Chambers.

The US State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 that analysed efforts in more than 173 countries to combat human trafficking had blacklisted Malaysia and 16 other countries.

The report said Malaysia became a destination and at least a source and transit country for the trafficking of women and children for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and men, women and children for the purpose of forced labour.

Malaysia is now in Tier Three -- no efforts to comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA).

Tier One refers to full compliance and Tier Two to significant efforts to comply with the TVPA.

Commenting on the progress made by Malaysia in its efforts to be upgraded to Tier Two, he said the "US was heartened by the tone and desire of the Malaysian government to achieve success".

"But in terms of having tangible results ... is something we have to continue to discuss. I think whether you deal with an organised crime or government officials ... no one should feel impunity," he said.

CdeBaca said Washington would encourage the Malaysian government to work and forge partnership with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in its efforts to tackle and combat human trafficking in this country.

While acknowledging that there were cases being prosecuted, he stressed that it was important that the Malaysian government ensured that investigations resulted in prosecution of those found involved.

"We do see commitment but our tier ranking is not based on commitment but based on results," he said.

CdeBaca will make recommendations to the US president and the State Department on the 90-day review and assessment about Malaysia's progress in combating the menace, which ends on Sept 15, after which the US will decide whether further action on Malaysia needed to be taken or otherwise based on the recommendations.

He said, however, that 90 days were not enough for any government to show results and added that the important date would be next June when they would come out with the yearly report on countries. -- BERNAMA

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