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The government is considering more effective laws, rules and policies in its fight against human trafficking. -- NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is considering more effective laws, rules and policies in its fight against human trafficking.

Home Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that there is also a need to strengthen cooperation among government agencies, civil society organisations and international institutions in anti-trafficking efforts.

"I believe we can put an end to this crime by working together," he said at the launch of the first National Conference on Anti-Trafficking in Persons 2019 here, today.

The two-day conference is jointly organised by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Council (MAPO) and Joining Hands Against Modern Slavery, a coalition of non-governmental organisations working towards ending modern slavery.

It is attended by about 300 participants.

According to Muhyiddin, the number of human trafficking victims in Malaysia has reduced over the years.

“MAPO recorded 543 victims placed at shelters in the first half of this year, in comparison to 1,474 throughout last year and 2,945 (in 2017).

"While the statistics demonstrate our resolve, we will continue to put more focus on enforcement, prosecution, prevention and protection of trafficked victims," he added.

Muhyiddin said the crime will persist if the business community continues to create a demand for trafficked persons, while public officials turn a blind eye to it.

"The Malaysian government views trafficking in persons as a pressing human rights issue and a heinous crime. It is a serious offence. Its sole purpose is none other than the exploitation of human beings for material gain," he added.

Muhyiddin said that MAPO, which is being spearheaded by the Home Ministry, has implemented reforms in the drive towards curbing human trafficking based on recommendations of the Trafficking-In-Persons Report.

“We have manifested our effort in curbing this issue with the appointment of specialised prosecutors and enforcement focal points in all states. In addition, a special court to handle trafficking cases has been established and a multi-disciplinary task force has been set up to ensure that trials and the time frame to settle human trafficking cases are expedited,” he added.

The conference, which also marks the national commemoration of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, covers several topics including "Inter-relationship of trafficking, forced labour and violence against women", "End human trafficking in supply chains: How does it start with us", "Thematic issues on trafficking in persons" and "Malaysia's response to trafficking-in-persons: Where are we heading?".

Also present at the launch were MAPO chairman Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim, Unicef Malaysia representative Marianne Clark-Hattingh and European Union ambassador and head of delegation to Malaysia Maria Castillo Fernandez.

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