Migrant rights activist: Malaysia doesn’t deserve Tier 2 upgrade in 2024 US human trafficking report

INDEPENDENT migrant worker rights specialist Andy Hall is furious over Malaysia being upgraded to Tier 2 in the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2024 – a step higher than last year when the country was placed under the Tier 2 Watch List.

Based on years of unsuccessful engagement with the Malaysian government on cases of alleged human trafficking and forced labour, he expressed strong disagreement with the Tier 2 upgrade.

“I have long concluded that a failed migrant work management and recruitment system continues to exist in Malaysia that promotes impunity, is devoid of the rule of law and is systemically corrupt,” berated the London-born labour activist who is a vocal critic of Malaysia’s poor treatment of its foreign workers.

Andy Hall

“There is little to no accountability for this dire situation, and no remediation at all of its victims.”

Malaysia was last in Tier 2 of the TIP report in 2017 which to-date remains the highest position it has achieved.

The TIP Report is an annual assessment that evaluates global trafficking trends by focusing on government efforts in prosecution, protection and prevention. The four categories are Tiers 1, 2, 2 (watchlist) and 3.

The upgrade means Malaysia is placed among countries like Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, India, Japan, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

The plight of Bangladeshi workers who now account for the lion’s share of migrant labour in Malaysia had taken centre stage in recent times with three international organisations having expressed concern over allegations that some of these workers were duped into coming to Malaysia on promises of non-existent jobs.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Labour Organization (ILO) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have further expressed preparedness to support efforts to meet the immediate needs of those stranded.

“Malaysia’s systemic inability to meaningfully combat labour trafficking, ensure remediation of victims and accountability of perpetrators indeed warranted its immediate downgrade today to Tier 3 in the 2024 US Department of State TIP Report,” suggested Hall.

“Today’s upgrade for Malaysia is disappointing and raises genuine concern about the legitimacy and accuracy of the US government’s country-based human trafficking assessments and the politics involved in the US government’s ranking decisions.” – June 25, 2024

Main image credit: Daily Industry Bangladesh

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