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‘Blame has to be shared’

PUTRAJAYA: Source countries of human trafficking must also be held accountable, instead of just zeroing in on the recipient countries, said Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic).

The Deputy Prime Minister said it was not fair for countries where victims of human smuggling ended up in to be solely blamed while countries where these people were taken from were unaffected by it.

“Malaysia is put on Tier 2 of the watch list of the United States Department of State’s Trafficking In Persons report whereas some source countries are in a better position than us.

“I don’t think this is fair especially if the goal posts on this issue keep changing,” he said at the launch of the National Anti-Trafficking in Persons Action Plan for 2016-2020.

Earlier, the Deputy Prime Minister chaired a high-level committee meeting on the plan attended by several Cabinet members including Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia remains committed to tackling the issue to prevent exploitation of humans irrespective of their race, ethnicity, religion and gender.

“We will not allow any individual, be it man, woman or child to be used as commodity and be exploited by irresponsible parties for profit,” he said.

“It is also my aim to see our commitment in fighting this crime resulting in Malaysia being placed on Tier 1 of the US watch list. The target is for us to be upgraded by 2020,” he said.

Human trafficking is the second highest crime after drug smuggling in terms of profit, generating millions of dollars for syndicates.

Based on Walk Free Foundation 2015, there are 45.8 million people enslaved worldwide with revenue recorded amounting to US$120bil (RM480bil) every year.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the national action plan for anti-trafficking in persons was not merely a blueprint for enforcement agencies to act against those involved in such syndicates, but would also take into account how laws could be reformed to provide better protection and welfare for the victims.

“I believe commitment and close working relations between ministries and agencies to implement the action plan will enable us to fight this heinous crime against humanity.

“At the same time, it will be a boost to Malaysia’s image as a nation that is committed to end human trafficking,” he added.

The action plan outlines the government’s responsibility, involvement of civil society, treatment given to victims based on human rights and co-ordination between multiple agencies, international bodies and NGOs in dealing with human smuggling activities.-thestar

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