BERNAMA – The Malaysian government is doing its utmost to rescue all its citizens who are human trafficking victims trapped abroad based on ‘the right to return’ principle, said the country’s Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
The minister said under this principle, the government will use whatever method needed to save Malaysians in trouble abroad after receiving an official report.
“The number (of human trafficking victims) have risen over the past four or five years. Whatever rescue attempt we make has a clear principle.
“First, the government will prioritise the right to return to Malaysians wherever they are, as long as we know they’re abroad and in trouble, the government will do everything possible to get them home,” he told reporters yesterday in response to reports that almost 2,000 Malaysians are human trafficking victims still trapped and unable to save themselves in several neighbouring countries.
Malaysia International Humanitarian Organisation (MHO) secretary-general Datuk Hishamuddin Hashim was reported to have said that the organisation received complaints from hundreds of family members of victims seeking help to bring them home, with over 1,200 victims being held against their will in Myanmar alone.
Saifuddin also said that the government would use diplomatic or agency-to-agency connections or intelligence sharing in efforts to track and rescue victims.
On the number of victims, he said they their only reference was the total number of official cases reported to authorities.
“That number is what they (MHO) gathered. I will only comment based on the official number provided to me by authorities on a periodic basis.
“Families… non-governmental organisations may have other channels. It’s important to establish an accurate number.
“Let the government act on the official number that’s most authoritative, as only through official numbers can we seek assistance through cooperation with the countries involved.
“In terms of the Cabinet, it’s under the Foreign Ministry and the Home Ministry is an important ministry in terms of operations.
“When we establish a complaint, we obtain confirmation and organise rescue operations – it requires police-to-police cooperation with foreign countries,” he said.
Saifuddin added that cooperation from victims’ family members was also crucial as authorities need all information for profiling purposes after the victims are rescued.
The information gathered so far includes whether victims were truly really naive and duped by the human trafficking syndicate.
“Some knew from the start it was a scam but still travelled abroad.”