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Human traffickers use Brunei borders

Publication Date : 17-12-2013


Human traffickers are using Brunei as a transit point to sneak people across the border into Sarawak and the rest of Malaysia, according to bilateral intelligence reports cited by a Malaysian newspaper yesterday.

The New Straits Times (NST) stated that Brunei-Malaysia intelligence had said the Sultanate’s four land checkpoints – Kuala Belait (Sg Tujoh), Kuala Lurah, Labu and Ujung Jalan – were being “capitalised” upon after entering Brunei by air.

“We have detected the intention of human traffickers in using Brunei as a transit point to gain entry into our country (Malaysia). Our counterparts in Brunei have also revealed to us that an internationally wanted human trafficker from Iran was detected and later arrested in Brunei recently,” Malaysian Immigration Director-General Datuk Alias Ahmad was quoted by NST as saying.

When The Brunei Times contacted officials from the Sultanate’s Immigration and National Registration Department for comment, we were directed to the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF), which was said to be the lead agency in handling human trafficking cases.

The force’s spokesperson had not been informed of the matter when asked yesterday.

In the NST report, Alias called for both sides to boost cooperation against transnational crime syndicates, which continuously change their patterns to avoid detection. Brunei was described as the “least expected country” for human traffickers to use to enter Malaysia, after Thailand and Singapore.

“Human traffickers are always looking for loopholes in every country to facilitate their job. Both countries (Brunei and Malaysia) have vowed to step up bilateral cooperation to weed out transnational criminal activities,” Alias was quoted as saying.

Human trafficking is considered a newly emerging crime in the Sultanate. Earlier this year, the RBPF produced posters to raise awareness at the community level of the increasingly pronounced global crime.

“This issue is a new thing and the police force has felt the need to share information with the hope that offences like this are addressed in its early stages,” said then RBPF Commissioner Pehin Orang Kaya Pendikar Alam CP Dato Paduka Seri Hj Hasrin Dato Paduka Hj Sabtu in April.

Head of RBPF’s Human Trafficking Investigation Unit, Assistant Superintendent Ang Lay Bee, said the “new crime (in Brunei) of human trafficking … involves sexual and labour exploitation”.

According to ASP Ang, the lack of public awareness was the main issue in human trafficking. “Most people don’t see not paying wages as human trafficking,” she said, explaining that most of the cases the unit looked into involved unpaid wages and runaway or missing workers.

Once located, the workers are interviewed to ensure they are not being exploited by their employers. If they are being taken advantage of, it can be regarded as human trafficking.

When interviewed in April, Ang said two cases of human trafficking that had made it to the courts involved aggravated cases of unpaid wages, as well as deprivation of basic necessities of rest, sleep and food, on top of physical abuse.

One of the cases involved a Malaysian couple who had not paid their Indonesian maid for more than 21 months and were accused of exploiting her through forced labour and servitude by means of force, physical abuse and deception. The duo is facing a fine of up to $1 million and 30 years in prison under the Trafficking and Smuggling of Persons Order, 2004.




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