16 Jan 2018
The setting up of a special court to handle human trafficking cases as announced by the deputy prime minister will be a useful component of Malaysia’s strategy to combat human trafficking.
Having judges with experience and a fine appreciation of the elements and intricacies of human trafficking is certainly helpful in ensuring perpetrators of human trafficking are effectively prosecuted in court.
This is especially the case because there seems to be a tendency for cases of human trafficking for labour to be downplayed or mistaken for mere violations of the Employment Act.
As stated by the chief justice, specialised courts will do better in dealing with a particular problem.
At the same time Tenaganita reiterates that the proceedings in a court, special or otherwise, are the culmination of a long process in prosecuting perpetrators of human trafficking offenders, as mentioned by our co-director Aegile Fernandez:
'Trafficking victims have often been reluctant to fight their case in court due to a lengthy legal process and a lack of support.
'Most of the trafficking victims are foreigners, they don’t want to wait for a long time to testify in court, the longer you keep them, the more they are traumatised and they just want to go home, then all the efforts to get the perpetrators are wasted.'
It is also equally important that other components in the process such as accurate identification of human trafficking crimes, robust investigations and careful compilation of evidence with utmost integrity, protection and sheltering of the survivor and consideration for their needs while the process is ongoing, are firmly established.
It is also crucial to strengthen the working relationship between the enforcement agencies and NGOs to increase the protection of the survivors.
Unless these vital prerequisites are met, the setting up of the special courts could be construed as a public relations exercise to seek another upgrade in the upcoming US TIP Report 2018.
We are appreciative of the statement by the deputy prime minister that the government is working closely with Tenaganita on this issue.
We look forward to greater consultation with the authorities so that we can share our experiences and insights gleaned over more than 26 years of work in this field, to cooperate closely with the authorities to combat human trafficking in our country.
As a survivor-centred organisation, Tenaganita seeks to protect and uphold the rights and best interests of the survivor while the perpetrators are brought to justice efficiently and effectively.
Taken in this context, Tenaganita welcomes the setting up of special courts to deal with human trafficking cases - Tenaganita
Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/408894#R2HJt9yf10TGYuZi.99
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