Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Putrajaya says over 2,000 human-trafficking victims now able to work locally

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the US embassy has identified 30 job openings in the JW Marriott hotel, with four victims already employed. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 21 — Putrajaya today announced that 2,217 human trafficking victims will be eligible to work here, following Malaysia’s upgrade to Tier 2 in the United States’ Trafficking in Persons report.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the US embassy has identified 30 job openings in the JW Marriott hotel, with four victims already employed.

“The number of victims offered protection is 2,217 individuals and we found that several protection measures have been offered to them and they are eligible for employment.

“I believe the number is more than that but because the definition is too wide, we will narrow it down,” he told reporters after a multi-ministry meeting with the US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun at the Home Ministry headquarters here.

He said the government will also collaborate with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and the US embassy.

Zahid, who is also home minister, said the US State Department will evaluate Malaysia’s performance in combating human trafficking next March.

He also said Malaysia aims to reach Tier 1 by 2020, but admitted the process “will take time”.

According to a recent World Bank report, there are 2.1 million registered immigrants and likely over 1 million undocumented immigrants in Malaysia.

Zahid said the Home Ministry and the Human Resources Ministry will come up with a definition of what makes a “human trafficking victim” as the current definition given by the US was “too wide”.

Malaysia is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and treats refugees as any other illegal immigrant.

The US upgraded Malaysia from Tier 3 — the lowest tier — to Tier 2 in its TIP report this year.

Malaysia’s Tier 3 status would have prevented the US from entering into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with the Southeast Asian country. 

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