NST exclusive on death camps: Government must provide full disclosure

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A cage used for illegal immigrants found at a human-trafficking camp in Wang Kelian, near the Malaysia-Thailand border of Wang Kelian, recently. - Photograph: Hasnoor Hussain/The Malaysian Insider

Answers are needed after the NST reported on the mismanagement and a possible cover-up by the authorities over the probe into the discovery of human trafficking death camps, says Ambiga Sreenevasan.

NST’s exclusive report on the secrets of Wang Kelian carried out by a courageous special team over two years is truly worthy of credit. Just as is The Malay Mail team who first broke the story on Wang Kelian. This is investigative journalism at its best because it serves the truth.

The NST report discloses the mismanagement and a possible cover-up by the authorities, in particular, the police over the investigation in respect of the discovery of human trafficking death camps. The NST report sheds light on the complicity or at the very least negligence if not incompetence of police officials. The reports states that there are corrupt public officials involved, indicating that organised crime continued to take place over an extensive time-frame that could not have been done without the aid of public officials.

Quoting from the report:

During the course of this investigation, the team traced and interviewed countless personalities who were directly involved in what had been, and still is, the most horrific case of human trafficking, torture and mass killings to have occurred on our soil.

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After the Malay Mail exposé in 2015, Hakam and the Malaysian Bar each submitted a memorandum to Suhakam urging that an independent inquiry be conducted into the discovery of the death camps, allegations of human trafficking, torture and mass killings.

However, we were made to understand that Suhakam’s budget was dramatically reduced in 2015 and 2016, which made it difficult for them to employ resources to initiate an inquiry.

The deaths of hundreds would have gone unheeded/unexplained but for the publication of the Malay Mail and the NST’s brave and thorough journalistic investigations. Hakam is also thankful to the sources who have chosen to do the right thing by speaking up and refusing to be part of this systematic cover-up.

These chilling news reports disclosed not just horrifying crimes against humanity that include the murder of innocent and defenceless human beings, but also regrettably the seeming cover-up or mismanagement by those in authority subsequently. Such criminal acts are made possible by parasites within the system aiding in the kidnapping, torturing, and killing of innocent people including women and children.

Interestingly, in June 2015, the NST revealed a report by the Malaysian Special Branch (the police’s own intelligence agency) that 80% of the nation’s security personnel and law enforcement officers at the Malaysian borders are corrupt. This report was revealed after the Malay Mail exposé was published.

In July this year, the Thai courts acted against Thai nationals involved and found 62 people out of 103 guilty of human trafficking including an army general, two provincial politicians and several police officers.

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Shamefully, Malaysia has not held the culprits accountable for this heinous crimes save* for laying charges against four foreign nationals, one of whom has been convicted. Twelve police officers were detained but later released (*as reported in the media).

Just as shamefully, despite this unacceptable state of affairs, the US Trafficking in Persons Report 2015 elevated Malaysia from Tier 3 to Tier 2.

This turning of a blind eye to atrocities committed within our borders must cease. The time for action is now.

Hakam therefore demands that the following questions raised by the NST team be answered promptly:

  • Why had the initial discovery of these death camps been kept a secret?
  • Who gave the orders to sanitise and destroy the crime scene, and why?
  • Why were the Perlis police, who knew of the existence of these jungle camps in Wang Kelian, not held accountable for ignoring these victims?

Hakam further demands that the government provides full disclosure on the following matters:

  • The discovery of another camp in Bukit Genting Perah
  • Status of the suspects that were arrested during the snatch and grab mission at Bukit Genting Perah; and
  • The follow-up action on the report on the Bukit Wang Burma death camps

Finally, Hakam calls upon Suhakam to inquire into the investigation by the NST and Malay Mail team and to commence a probe into this highly unacceptable state of affairs. Should the government fail to fund Suhakam in order to carry out the inquiry, Hakam will engage with civil society members to raise the necessary funds from the people of Malaysia so that Suhakam may undertake this urgent and necessary probe.

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Ambiga Sreenevasan is the president of Hakam.

 

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