MAB, SHUT fight against human trafficking 

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / pic MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MALAYSIA Airlines Bhd (MAB) and the Stop Human Trafficking Association (SHUT) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to reaffirm their commitment to fighting human trafficking.

The MoU signifies both organisations’ efforts to better equip the airline’s crew and ground staff to be more attentive in recognising and reporting possible victims of human trafficking and raising awareness through a series of workshops, events and campaigns.

In 2020, Malaysia recorded 165 cases of human trafficking, up from 167 cases reported in 2019 and 148 cases reported in 2008 due to economic and political factors.

The cases were recorded by the Home Affairs Ministry and the National Registration Department.

The MoU was signed at the inaugural Aviation Against Trafficking in Persons Conference, held in conjunction with World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, to provide a broader perspective and shed light on the critical issue plaguing the country’s aviation sector.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin (third from left); Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) group chairman Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin; and MAG group CEO Captain Izham Ismail (left), among others.

Hamzah said to combat human trafficking in Malaysia, government has enacted the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (ATIPSOM (2007)), which was enforced in 2008.

“With the ATIPSOM Act, the government has established the Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (MAPO), mandated for coordination and implementation of the act,” he said.

MAPO is tasked with formulating policies and programmes to prevent and combat the crime of human trafficking and migrant smuggling in Malaysia. 

Its members consist of the Transport Ministry, Royal Malaysian Police, Immigration Department, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Royal Malaysian Customs Department and Department of Labour, as well as relevant NGOs.

Hamzah added that the combating human trafficking needs participation across borders and nations. 

“As such, we work closely with neighbouring countries, namely in the Asean region.

“I hope that the council will continue to play an active role in ensuring that activities involving trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants are kept under control.

“I look forward to hearing the results and resolutions of this conference. I believe conferences such as these are important and can assist the ministry in planning and executing effective future efforts,” said Hamzah.

The conference that was co-organised by MAB and SHUT has brought together speakers from various industries to discuss topics on human trafficking in aviation, such as the impact on aviation of onboarding a victim; challenges when saving trafficked victims; and the role of technology in encountering human trafficking in person.

The airline has also collaborated with the International Organisation for Migration to train its crew and ground personnel on recognising and reporting potential human trafficking victims onboard and at the airport. 

Through this initiative, over 3,000 crew and ground staff were trained on anti-human trafficking through enhanced and digitalised learning modules.

MAG COO Ahmad Luqman Mohd Azmi said the aviation industry is crucial in the global fight against human trafficking. 

“MAG believes that providing airport and airline personnel with training, materials and information is an important step towards raising awareness and catching traffickers in the act, thus saving lives,” he said.

He added that with international borders steadily reopening, the demands for active cooperation with law enforcement agencies to devise pragmatic solutions to combat human trafficking and smuggling have increased.

“This partnership with SHUT demonstrates our dedication to going above and beyond to safeguard every passenger, and it is consistent with the group’s core belief that safety and security are in our DNA,” he said.

Meanwhile, SHUT president Dini Dalilah Wan Nordin (second from right) said the economic crunch brought about by the pandemic has widened the group of vulnerable people due to the loss of income, leaving more people desperate and in need of making ends meet.

“By working closely with our national carrier through the SHUT Fly-HT campaign, we will be able to stop vulnerable people from being victims of human trafficking. 

“I also hope to see more industry players follow in the footsteps of MAB,” she concluded.