Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today launched the National Action Plan on Anti-Trafficking in Persons 2016 - 2020, in an effort to improve its ranking on US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report. Pix by Mohd Fadli Hamzah

PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today launched the National Action Plan on Anti-Trafficking in Persons 2016 - 2020, in an effort to improve its ranking on US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report (USTIP).

Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, vowed to upgrade Malaysia's ranking to Tier 1 by 2020, after chairing a High Level Committee meeting on anti-human trafficking comprising various ministries.

Malaysia remained in the Tier 2 watchlist after moving up from the Tier 3 blacklist in 2015.

Also present at the launch were Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam and Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem.

"Malaysia has been working hard to check human trafficking activities.

"But there is an international syndicate that are smuggling people into the country," he said at the launch.

He added enforcement agencies, including police and Immigration Department, had increased effort to curb the illegal activities with all their means and resources.

Zahid also stressed that Malaysia should not be held accountable over issues at hand and added that the source countries must also be held responsible.

The 2016-2020 action plan outlines the transformation by the government following the amendment to Atipsom 2007 last year in strengthening victim protection, which allowed free movement, employment, salary entitlement and the expansion of NGOs' role.

The plan is a continuation from the earlier five-year action plan that was launched on March 30, 2010.

The Phase 2 action plan is to support the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (Atipsom) 2007 towards a joint holistic cooperation in the fight against human trafficking.

There are five principles outlined in the action plan including participation of civil society; traffic victims' treatment based on human rights; coordination among international bodies and non-governmental organisations as well as systematic and resilient evaluation.

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