Brunei stands firm against human trafficking

Hakim Hayat

Brunei Darussalam, through joint coordination between different law enforcement agencies, has intensified screenings of potential Trafficking in Persons (TIP) cases last year, a 40-per cent increase from the previous year, demonstrating the country’s strong commitment in ensuring the prevention any elements of human trafficking into the country. Permanent Secretary (Security, Enforcement and Law) at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), who is also the Chairman of the National Committee on TIP Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd) Pengiran Haji Muhamad Sazali bin Pengiran Haji Yakob shared the latest statistics in a recent interview, showing that 132 screenings were made between January and October 2020, up from 90 screenings made in 2019 by the Human Trafficking Unit (HTU) of the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF), where none of these cases amounted to a TIP offence.

Despite this, the permanent secretary stressed that Brunei’s law enforcement agencies will remain vigilant and watchful for any possible TIP cases, while also noting that the care and protection of TIP victims remains paramount to their work, in accordance with the objectives of the National Committee on TIP at the PMO, which was established in January 2020, with the aim of addressing TIP issues through a whole-of-government approach.

Brunei Darussalam is also expecting to establish a dedicated shelter for TIP victims, to offer as much support as possible, according to the permanent secretary, by aspiring to meet or even exceed international best practices in the handling of victims.

Brunei has also established a fund not only for victim support, but also for initiatives to eradicate TIP and to spread public awareness on the major crime.

According to the permanent secretary, a National Plan of Action against TIP was endorsed for implementation in September 2020, consisting of four key strategies: ensuring the timely and effective protection of TIP victims; raising public awareness to prevent and combat TIP; strengthening partnerships and inter-agency coordination; and the effective investigation and prosecution of TIP offences.

He also highlighted the public’s role in helping to identify and report cases of TIP, saying, “In the future, there will be an opportunity for the public to play a bigger role, particularly in providing support services to the victims of TIP.”

To ensure that the public is well aware of TIP cases, the permanent secretary said a special task force has been established under the National Committee, to oversee public awareness efforts in addressing TIP.

“The task force is rolling out an awareness programme that is targetted for employers, with a focus on ethical employment practices for the prevention of TIP; foreign workers, with a focus on their rights as employees and measures to protect them from becoming victims of TIP; and the general public, to educate them on the indicators of TIP and the steps to take if they discover suspected cases of TIP,” he said.