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NEWS UPDATES 18 June 2009

Malaysia upset by US putting it back on trafficking blacklist

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Malaysia has accused the United States of unfair treatment over its decision to re-list the country on a human trafficking blacklist, AFP reported.

Washington's annual "Trafficking in Persons Report", released yesterday, says Malaysia is failing to comply with minimum standards to eliminate trafficking and "is not making significant efforts to do so".

Last year the report elevated Malaysia to a "watch list" from the 2007 blacklist after finding that it was "making significant efforts" to comply with standards.

"It is unfair to put us back on the list as we are doing our best," Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Abu Seman Yusop told reporters.

"We will have to consider our next action in opposing the re-listing of our country on the blacklist," he added.

Abu Seman said the Malaysian government did not condone human trafficking and had taken stern action to deal with the problem, including enacting an anti-human trafficking law in 2007 and setting up a special task force.

The report said that while the Malaysian government took early steps to fight sex trafficking, it has yet to fully tackle labour trafficking.

It said there were "credible allegations", including those in a US Senate report this year, that some immigration officials took part in trafficking and extorting refugees from Myanmar.

Malaysia, which is listed with 16 other countries, including six newly-added African nations, could face sanctions such as the withholding of non-humanitarian, non-trade related US aid.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said recently his country was being used as a transit point for illegal immigrants.

Recent incidents include the arrests of 17 Iraqis and seven Indonesians over the weekend after authorities intercepted a boat that was trying to smuggle some of them to Australia via Indonesia.

Authorities have said 12 suspected illegal immigrants were drowned off Malaysia's southern coast in the last two months when they tried to sneak out of the country.


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