PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has been upgraded to Tier 2 in the US state department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, a step higher than last year.

Malaysia was last in Tier 2 of the TIP report in 2017, which remains the highest position it has achieved.

Countries in this tier are defined as not fully meeting the department’s minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking but making significant efforts to come into compliance.

Last year, Malaysia was upgraded to Tier 2 (watchlist) of the TIP report after being downgraded to Tier 3 in 2021 and 2022. The downgrade had put the country at risk of potential export sanctions.

The TIP Report is an annual assessment that evaluates global trafficking trends, focusing on government efforts in prosecution, protection and prevention. The four categories are Tiers 1, 2, 2 (watchlist) and 3.

The upgrade means Malaysia is placed among countries like Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, India, Japan, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

The 2024 report was launched by US secretary of state Antony Blinken in Washington.

The plight of Bangladeshi workers, who now account for the lion’s share of migrant labour in Malaysia, had taken centre stage earlier this year.

Three international organisations had expressed concern over allegations that some of these workers were duped into coming to Malaysia on promises of non-existent jobs.

The International Organization for Migration, International Labour Organization and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said they were ready to support efforts to meet the immediate needs of those stranded.

Meanwhile, in an immediate response, migrant rights activist Andy Hall expressed surprise at the upgrade in the TIP report, citing years of unsuccessfully engaging Putrajaya on cases of alleged human trafficking and forced labour.

“Malaysia’s systemic inability to meaningfully combat labour trafficking, ensure remediation of victims and accountability of perpetrators does not deserve an upgrade,” he said.

2024-06-24T16:01:42Z dg43tfdfdgfd