Last Updated on March 14, 2018, 9:59 a.m.
Human traffickers are usually someone of the same origin or country as the victims, said Karine Moreno-Taxman from the United States (US) Department of Justice.
She said one of the reasons was that the traffickers know the victims’ social issues and norms of their society, and therefore, how to control them.
Moreno-Taxman said many victims, not knowing where they are and not being able to speak the local language, become dependent on their traffickers.
She said human trafficking victims would initially think that they had come to another country for a better job or opportunity.
“Suddenly, they (the victims) come here or to the US, they find that they cannot speak (the local language). They do not have their documents or a phone. Most of them are young. They do not know where their families are or how to get in touch with them. And so the only person they can count on is the trafficker. That’s where the coercion begins,” she explained.
She said traffickers use that dependency to exploit their victims.
“The victims will do whatever the traffickers say because all they want is to survive,” she explained to the media after the opening of a three-day Malaysia and United States Human Trafficking Judicial Dialogue here yesterday.
Moreno-Taxman said the traffickers would also convince the victims that they would be arrested and sent to jail if they sought help, making it hard for the victims to trust the police.
She said the inaugural dialogue was participated by Sessions Court and High Court judges from Sabah and Sarawak on the first two days, followed by prosecutors and law enforcement personnel on the third day on the collection of evidence.
“The purpose of this dialogue is to see what we have in common and what we have that is not the same,” she said.
Moreno-Taxman said Malaysia had been making great efforts against human trafficking as shown in its going from Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2 in the US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.
She said the dialogue was a continuous effort by Malaysia to learn and find ways to improve prosecutions and investigations on human trafficking, and to ensure it was done in a just and fair way.
Moreno-Taxman said human trafficking was a difficult crime to understand and prosecute because the victims had many issues. As such, she said one of the goals of the dialogue was to discuss human trafficking from the victims’ perspective.
She added that it was important for countries to work together on the universal problem of human trafficking.
“We all have to work together because the criminals and syndicates work together. If we do not work together, how do we get that (human trafficking) to end?” she remarked.
To another question, Moreno-Taxman said Malaysia’s Anti Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 was a good and comprehensive law that met the standards of other countries.
Meanwhile, Kuching’s High Court Judge, Datuk Yew Jen Kie, hoped that through the sharing of experience and perspectives on human trafficking, the Malaysian judiciary could gain insight from their American counterpart on the ways of gathering evidence and presenting the evidence in court to secure a conviction.