180 law enforcement officers and deputy public prosecutors took part in the “Victim-Centered Response to Trafficking-in-Persons (TIP)” trainings across Malaysia throughout February 2023. The training – which was co-organized by International Justice Mission (IJM) Malaysia and Global Shepherds Berhad (GSB) with the support of Malaysia’s National Strategic Office of the Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (NSO-MAPO) – aimed to help authorities understand the importance of a victim-centered responses in trafficking-in-persons cases and equip them with the skills to provide protection in a victim-centered manner.
In 2021, Malaysia was downgraded from Tier 2, returning to Tier 3 for the first time since 2014 U.S. government’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report. Despite the government taking measures to address trafficking – Malaysia remained in Tier 3 in 2022 – with the report stating that the country did not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and was not making significant efforts to do so. Insufficient identification of victims and inconsistent use of victim identification SOPs were among the challenges highlighted in the 2022 TIP report.
“Human trafficking is a horrific crime that victimizes and exploits those who live in poverty,
therefore, any effort to fight it should be uncompromising,” said Ji Lien Ooi, Field Office Director of IJM Malaysia in her opening remarks during the first training session in Kuala Lumpur. “In our fight against human trafficking and our efforts to punish the perpetrators, it is vital that we remember the people who have been victimized and traumatized through this horrendous experience.”
During the two-day training session, participants were given an overview of the TIP situation in Malaysia and the national legal framework, particularly Malaysia’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (ATIPSOM) Act. Participants were also trained in victim identification, investigation techniques, trafficker profiling, trauma-informed approaches in handling TIP cases, and victim-centered prosecution. Participants were also given an opportunity to apply their training in group exercises.
“We know that the victims are vulnerable. Our enforcement officers are trained to arrest, not to rescue,” said an honorary speaker from NSO MAPO. “So, I hope this training will give them the education and awareness to have a more humanized approach.”
IJM Malaysia continues to work collaboratively with the Malaysian Government, law enforcement authorities and non-governmental stakeholders in support of national efforts against trafficking in persons and forced labor in the country and for the protection of those most vulnerable to these crimes.