SINCE the discovery of the Wang Kelian death camps in 2015, Malaysian police and their Thai counterparts have stepped up patrols along the border to control human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department Director Comm Datuk Seri Abd Jalil Hassan said some people are still trying to use the lorong tikus (rat lanes) to enter the country but to no avail.
“Due to increased patrols and the establishment of checkpoints along the border from Kelantan to Perlis, the attempts failed,” he told reporters after the launch of the conference on prosecution and enforcement of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Act (Atipsom). in Penang.
A total of 105 officers and staff took part in the four-day event, including Attorney General’s Chambers (AGCs) and law enforcement agencies, at a hotel in George Town, Penang.
Comm Abd Jalil added that modern technology, including drones, was also helpful in monitoring the Malaysian-Thai border.
He said cooperation between the police, the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, the Royal Malaysian Customs Department and the Department of Immigration was also essential to combat human trafficking. and migrant smuggling activities.
Victims of human trafficking, mostly Indonesians and Rohingyas, have been brought in by sea as the land border is still closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Those living along the border can also notify us if they encounter human trafficking or smuggling activities.
“I advise those who want to enter our country illegally to stop doing so. Use the right channel to enter Malaysia.
“Through integrated operations between police and other law enforcement agencies, we will be able to eliminate trafficking and contraband activities,” he said.
During Ops Wawasan Khas conducted in 2015, 139 graves of victims of human trafficking were discovered by police in 28 detention camps deep in the jungles of Perlis, near the Thai border.
The victims are believed to be Bangladeshis and Rohingyas from Myanmar. They were suspected of having died of abuse or malnutrition.
Comm Abd Jalil said efforts to combat human trafficking were underway to improve the country’s ranking from Tier 3 to Tier 1 in the US State Department’s annual report on human trafficking.
In addition to their own efforts, law enforcement agencies also take advice from the MCO and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (Mapo) Council to achieve the goal.
He added that Malaysia was downgraded to Tier 3 in 2021 after being on the Tier 2 watch list for three years.
Comm Abd Jalil said a total of 112 raids were carried out last year resulting in the arrest of 228 people for their involvement in human trafficking activities.
“During the raids, we rescued 448 victims and of these, 119 people have since been granted protective orders.”
He added that in January this year, 19 people were arrested in 13 human trafficking raids and 37 other victims were rescued and granted interim protection orders.
Regarding migrant smuggling, Comm Abd Jalil said in 2021, a total of 217 raids were carried out, leading to the arrest of 375 smugglers and 1,873 migrants.
“In January of this year, 24 raids were carried out. We arrested 44 smugglers and 231 migrants,” he added.
There is a difference between human smuggling and human trafficking as the former is an immigration crime committed by willing participants while the latter involves the exploitation of unwitting victims.