Navigating hurdles in human trafficking cases

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ ANN) - Convicting an individual in a human trafficking case is a complex task that requires multi-coordination from different parties in the country as well as cooperation beyond Brunei’s borders to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice, said Counsel and Deputy Public Prosecutor at the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) Hajah Rozaimah binti Haji Abdul Rahman.

She made the statement during the second plenary session on the final day of the ‘Combating Trafficking in Persons’ conference (CTIP 2018) hosted by Bruneian youth initiative Youth Against Slavery Brunei (YAS Brunei) yesterday.

Speakers from the AGC, Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) and Department of Labour discussed several issues including the Sultanate’s existing laws to protect individuals from human trafficking.

Hajah Rozaimah, who for many years presided over the prosecution of human trafficking cases, highlighted the strong stance of the Government of Brunei Darussalam in eradicating human trafficking with severe penalties including a lengthy custodial sentence. The 2004 Trafficking and Smuggling of Persons Order prohibits human trafficking and prescribes punishment of up to 30 years imprisonment.

Although existing Brunei human trafficking laws that follow international laws have led to the conviction of several individuals involved in human trafficking cases over the years, Hajah Rozaimah said that prosecuting a human trafficking case often comes with hurdles due to the high requirement of evidence or proof, and given the seriousness of the offence.

Over the last few years, a number of individuals, including locals, have been convicted for human trafficking crimes in the country – mostly for trafficking of individuals from outside the country to work in the country illegally, forced labour or for denying wages.

Acting Head of Human Trafficking Investigation Unit, Criminal Investigation Department of the RBPF Assistant Superintendent Ivy Han; Senior Labour Inspector, Head Unit of Operation, Labour Enforcement Division at the Department of Labour Md Zulfadhli bin Suhai; and Senior Labour Inspector, Head of Dispute and Investigation Unit, Labour Enforcement Division at the Department of Labour also comprised the panel of speakers.

YAS Brunei said the conference was held in line with the theme of this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (TIP) – responding to the trafficking of children and young people.

The plenary sessions covered topics on the role of government actors and others in Combating Trafficking in Persons (CTIP), indicators of human trafficking crimes, cybercrime awareness, the protection of children’s safety in the digital world and regional youth advocacy on anti-human trafficking.

With high usage of technology in Asia, growing numbers of job seekers and increasing amount of movement between borders, the conference focussed on how and in what ways the governments, non-government actors and citizens of Asean can combat human trafficking.

The conference also aimed at strengthening the network’s ability to combat trafficking in persons, including protecting the youth from exploitation preventing Brunei from becoming a destination for trafficking in persons, misuse of the Internet and other forms of human exploitation.

The conference also highlighte the importance of working with those most likely to encounter human trafficking victims and the role they can play in sharing their first-hand experience to strengthen the effectiveness of human trafficking policies.

YAS Brunei is a Bruneian youth initiative which is a product of Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) – a US government endeavor.