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(File pix) Malaysia joined the global community in pledging its commitment to end forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York. EPA Photo

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia joined the global community in pledging its commitment to end forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Malaysia accords this with the highest priority in accordance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said yesterday during the High-Level Leaders Event chaired by United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May.

Themed “A Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking”, Anifah said the country has sufficient laws to deal with the matter such as the Penal Code and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007.

He also revealed prosecutions and convictions have increased substantially since 2015 adding that victims have also been given the freedom to move freely and be employed in the country since last year.

“In ensuring a cohesive and well-coordinated national response, the Malaysian high-level inter-ministerial Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants is being chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia since 2015.

In addition, Malaysia’s efforts are being guided by our National Action Plan on Anti-Trafficking in Persons (2016-2020), as the second instalment to our first plan for the 2011-2015 period.

“The implementation of this National Action Plan is being governed by five guiding principles, namely government ownership, civil society participation, human rights-based treatment of victims, interdisciplinary coordination at the governmental level and with international organisations and NGOs, and finally, systematic evaluation and sustainability,” he said.

Anifah asserted Malaysia recognises the centrality of regional and international cooperation in combating these heinous crimes.

Less than two weeks ago Malaysia has ratified the 2015 Asean Convention against Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP), especially women and children.

“In addition, Malaysia is an active member of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, which has instituted regional mechanisms and arrangements in addressing the scourge.”

Anifah said the solution to the complex issue requires collective efforts, not only by States but also by other stakeholders, especially the civil society and private sector.

“In this regard, my delegation is of the view that the measures outlined in the “Call to Action” document that is before us today may serve as an excellent basis in steering the way forward, particularly towards achieving Target 8.7 under Agenda 2030,” he stressed.

In the event at the UN General Assembly, May issued an official call for an international pledge to confront the scandal by working collaboratively and internationally yet at the same time look at their own situation.

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