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Malaysian newspaper vendor finally charged with trafficking of Indian nationals after continued pressure from MTUC

[International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)] - At least five Indian workers suffered what appears to be a "classic" case of human trafficking. The workers were forced to work as paperboys in Puchong, Malaysia, between 5 to 8 months without pay, a single day off or decent food.

 

by Jeroen Beirnaert, Project Coordinator Forced Labour and Trafficking

 

The Indian workers were forced to ride motorcycles without a license or residence papers. Their documents had been confiscated upon arrival. When two of them were physically assaulted by the employer, co-workers became suspicious. When the case came to light, the workers were intimidated and threatened with arrest by police officers. The workers told the Malaysian Trades Union Congress ( MTUC) that the police frequented the company premises on a regular basis to receive bribes for not arresting the migrant workers for driving without a license. All workers were said to be indebted to the employer as medical expenses, bribes and damages for motorcycles were deducted from salaries. Neither ever received a statement of their "account". The workers were physically locked inside the premises. After being informed about the case, the MTUC approached the news agency, which refused to address the complaints. Thereupon, MTUC approached the Department of Labour of Subang Jaya to investigate the case. Identified indications of forced labour and human trafficking were reported to the Anti-Trafficking Division of the Labour Department of the Human Resources Ministry. Late may, one of the workers was abducted form his workplace, beaten up and escorted to pass the departure gate without any of his belongings as "a lesson to all other workers". MTUC was only just able to rescue him and reported the case to the Police urging for immediate intervention. After a police investigation, incredibly it was the workers who were arrested for undocumented residence, not the employers for trafficking. Finally, now, after continued pressure from MTUC since May 2011, the Labour Department has filed a complaint under Section 12 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 against the newspaper vendor for trafficking five Indian workers. The management responsible now risks up to 15 years of imprisonment and a fine. The case will be handled on 25 November 2011.

Read more in the Malaysian Star.