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Malaysian, Indonesian govts tackle trafficking

New bilateral agreement to be signed this month

Jenifer Majalap (center) with other AHDC workers Jenifer Majalap (center) with other AHDC workers
  • ucanews.com reporter, Kota Kinabalu
  • Malaysia
  • January 10, 2011
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Malaysian and Indonesian authorities are on the verge of signing an agreement to curb human trafficking of Indonesians to the East Malaysian state of Sabah.

Representatives of the two countries will ink a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) later this month in Kuala Lumpur, Jenifer Majalap, senior program officer of the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocesan Human Development Committee (AHDC), told ucanews.com.

Although details are not immediately available, Majalap said the move is regarded as a huge milestone in joint efforts by the two countries to combat trafficking.

Majalap added that government-to-government cooperation will be crucial in creating a stronger platform to address the long-standing problem.

AHDC is currently partnering with the Geneva-based International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) to implement a three-year project to curb trafficking and debt-bondage of Indonesians, especially women and children, to Sabah.

The project, which started in 2008, is funded by the Office of Global Trafficking in Persons of the US Department of State.

Majalap told ucanews.com that stronger bilateral cooperation will give more bite to project activities, especially concerning prevention of cases, protection of victims and prosecution of the guilty parties.

“This year we will have a series of exchanges and cross-border mechanism meetings to discuss how we can cooperate. Without the support from the national and state levels these will not be so effective,” she noted.

When the project started in 2008, most efforts were focused on creating public and government awareness of the trafficking issue. Malaysia’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act also came into force in that year.

However, an Anti-Trafficking In Persons Task Force is required to translate the national commitment to the state level particularly in Sabah, which has long been a magnet for thousands of Indonesians, Majalap insisted.

“The Act has been seen as a federal (government) matter. But we feel that it is vital to set up the task force,” she said.

Police have stated that Sabah was among the top three human trafficking hotspots in the country.

The forthcoming MoU was initiated by the Malaysian Anti Human Trafficking Council (MAPO) with its counterpart in Indonesia. AHDC and ICMC are facilitating the whole process.

Related reports
Fighting trafficking a challenge in Malaysia
Indonesian, Malaysian Catholics Resolve To Fight Human Trafficking, Help Migrant Workers

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