Transit Point

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31, 2010 (AFP) – Malaysia on Wednesday launched a national plan against human trafficking as the country moves to quash its image as a transit point for traffickers. Home minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the five-year plan would strengthen anti-trafficking legislation and training and improve border security among measures to tackle the problem.

“We need to equip our personnel with relevant knowledge and expertise in areas concerning policy, prevention, protection and rehabilitation including prosecution,” he said.

Hishammuddin said 202 human trafficking cases had been dealt with under legislation introduced in 2007 with 1,252 victims of various nationalities rescued so far.

He said the plan also called for a reduction in the 1.9 million foreign workers in Malaysia, which “could be a contributing factor of people trafficking.”

Hishamuddin also stressed the need for strategic partnerships with destination countries such as Australia.

Immigration activists say Malaysia is often used as a staging post for trafficking gangs moving people from Myanmar, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka to Indonesia and Australia.

Migrant rights group Ten