| Azlan Othman |
BRUNEI Darussalam has maintained its Tier 2 status, the second-highest ranking in the US State Department’s latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report published recently.
The annual report stated that the Government of Brunei Darussalam does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, keeping the country in Tier 2.
Tier 2 is accorded to countries whose governments do not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. The Sultanate has been in Tier 2 since 2012 before which it was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List.
According to the report, “The Brunei government has demonstrated increased efforts by expanding measures to prevent trafficking through migrant worker outreach, accommodating more victims at its shelters and carrying out victim screening procedures while strengthening investigations into alleged labour abuses that may amount to trafficking.”
The report also recommended Brunei to increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict and punish both sex and labour traffickers with strong penalties and increase protective services to provide incentives for victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions.
The report added that during the reporting period, the government conducted training for labour and immigration officials and non-government organisations (NGOs) and targetted public awareness-raising campaigns.
In 2017, the Immigration and National Registration Department conducted two roadshows to educate the public on employment laws, recruitment and labour rights; the events took place in one of Brunei’s most popular malls and were open to the general public.
With government support, a local NGO organised a two-part awareness campaign and exhibition, featuring panel discussions with professionals from the government and civil society, which reviewed trafficking issues in Brunei, the report noted.
Media continued to publish articles related to trafficking, particularly regarding investigations and legal proceedings against employers suspected of labour violations, as well as the list of registered employment agencies in both English and Malay, it added.
“In an effort to prevent labour abuses, the government assigned dedicated liaison officers to construction projects that employ a significant number of migrant workers. The government increased public messaging on the consequences of violating workers’ rights and labour laws, but did not make efforts to decrease the demand for commercial sex acts,” the TIP report said.