46 cases of human trafficking probed

National 2 minutes, 34 seconds


THE Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) has investigated 46 suspected cases of human trafficking in the first half of 2014, said an official from the Indonesian embassy in Brunei yesterday.

Speaking at a briefing to raise awareness of the issue among Indonesian workers, Counsellor Deny Tri Basuki said the embassy would work closely with RBPF’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) whenever they come across cases that have elements of human trafficking. Citing the recent case of an Indonesian maid who broke her leg by jumping from a third-storey flat in a bid to escape from her employer, Deny said the case fits some criteria of human trafficking.

“In her the case, the CID interviewed the victim based on the (trafficking) indicators… Whether it is a genuine case of trafficking, it’s up to CID to determine. The matter is still under investigation,” he told _The Brunei Time_s on the sidelines of the briefing yesterday.

Unlike people-smuggling where individuals are complicit in the crime, human trafficking must contain elements of force, fraud or coercion and usually involves forced labour or services. Victims are also subject to limited movement and have identification documents confiscated.

With more than 70,000 Indonesians working in Brunei, Deny said it is crucial that expatriate workers know their rights. Some of most common complaints received by the embassy include labour exploi-tation, unpaid wages, debt bon-dage and passport confiscation.

According to police statistics, the RBPF investigated 183 cases of suspected human trafficking in 2013. However, since 2004 – when new legislation was introduced to address the issue – only three cases have been prosecuted in court.

Deny said the lack of prosecution is due to the difficulty in proving specific elements of trafficking, and victims are often uncooperative in providing testimony.

“More often than not, they just want to go home,” he said.

In a previous report, Deputy Public Prosecutor Chris Ng explained that the Public Prosecutor’s Office only proceeds with cases that have strong evidence.

He said several criteria must be proved to obtain a conviction - such as the use of threats, deception, abuse of power and recruitment or transport of an individual for the purpose of exploitation.

However, the Attorney General’s Chambers is currently reviewing the Trafficking and Smuggling of Persons Order as part of efforts to improve laws combating traffick-ing in persons.

“One of the recommendations made in the US State Department report is that we should delineate our smuggling and trafficking provisions,” said Ng.

In the US State Department’s 2012 Trafficking in Persons report, Brunei is described as a transit and destination country for trafficking in persons.

“Brunei is a destination country and to a much lesser extent, a source and transit country for men and women who are subjected to forced labour and forced prostitution,” the report read, stating that people from within the region migrate to Brunei for work but are sometimes subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude after arrival.

The report also stated that the Sultanate has made “significant efforts” towards compliance, devoting more resources and training to raise awareness and prosecute trafficking cases.

The Brunei Times