KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has urged the government today to set up a high-level task force to conduct thorough and transparent investigations against the exploitation of migrant workers.
It also called on the government and all relevant agencies to work towards a complete revamp in the policies, processes, accountability and transparency of the recruitment and management of migrant workers as well as setting up a ministry to oversee and manage the affairs of all migrant workers in Malaysia.
“We implore and urge the government to seriously address this matter and execute the following actions — setting up a high-level task force to facilitate thorough and transparent investigations, identify shortcomings and most importantly action to be recommended against persons involved in this horrible and exploitative human trafficking processes,” it said in a statement.
“These people were duped and entered Malaysia on a valid immigration pass indicating the strong possibility of lax enforcement approvals and very likely corrupt practices within the relevant agencies,” the commission said, acknowledging practices of modern slavery and human trafficking in recruitment processes.
The commission also pushed the government to expedite the implementation of the recommendations listed in the “Report of the Independent Committee on the Management of Foreign Workers” which was only made available to the public on October 13 this year despite being completed on January 30, 2019.
Suhakam’s statement was prompted by the arrest of 171 Bangladeshi men in Kota Tinggi, Johor on December 20 this year.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the migrants were marching to a police station to lodge a report against their agents who promised employment.
“Their desperation must have driven them to lodge reports despite being aware of the risk of arrest, detention and deportation.”
“These issues involve basic and inviolable human rights, and the lack of meaningful action and continued indifference will only reflect on us as a nation and society lacking in compassion dignity and humane values,” it said in the statement.
The migrant workers’ monitoring systems should also be enhanced to ensure fair and safe working conditions as well as a combined effort with their home country to create safe migration routes.
The “Report of the Independent Committee on the Management of Foreign Workers” was made by an independent committee set up by a decision of the cabinet, upon the initiative of the Home Ministry and Ministry of Human Resources.
The independent committee was composed of 12 competent and knowledgeable senior officials in the field of foreign workers and was spearheaded by Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamuddin Md Yunus.