Saturday, August 15

Suhakam calls for release of RCI findings on Wang Kelian tragedy

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KUCHING: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has called on the government to release the report and findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the Wang Kelian tragedy, involving human trafficking syndicates and subsequent obstruction of justice by enforcement authorities.

In 2015, more than 100 skeletal remains, believed to be those of Rohingya refugees, and close to 150 graves were discovered in the hills of the border town in Perlis.

In a statement to mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30, Suhakam asserted that justice must be served for those who had died, nameless as they were.

“More importantly, what are the lessons learnt and Malaysia’s response to avoid a recurrence of such a tragedy in the future, remains to be seen,” the statement concluded.

Suhakam reminded all of the existence and continued occurrence of human trafficking within and beyond national borders as human trafficking is a lucrative trade that remains rampant despite its illegality worldwide.

“Traffickers prey on those who are vulnerable, desperate, and unsuspecting; giving false promises and misleading information at the start, which may then progress to threats, aggression, or violence later for the sake of profiteering.

“People who are trafficked are at high risk of being sexually exploited, forced into marriages, involved in forced labour, or suffer heinous crimes such as deaths,” Suhakam said.

The commission pointed out that the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (Act 670) is the specific legislation that addresses human trafficking in Malaysia.

It urged the government to identify weaknesses and thereby strengthen the Malaysian border enforcement infrastructure to deny traffickers any opportunity to carry out their heinous practices.

It also called upon the government to intensify efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers and those abetting in such activities.

“The government should also focus on providing all forms of necessary assistance including legal aid, humanitarian supplies, and access to basic services to victims of trafficking.

“Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution states that ‘All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law’, whilst Article 6(1) and (2) establishes that no person shall be held in slavery and forced labour is prohibited,” said Suhakam.