Malaysia takes major step towards ending forced labour

National Action Plan launched with aim to eliminate forced labour in Malaysia by 2030.

Press release | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 26 November 2021
Foreign construction workers lining up for a COVID-19 test in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia's new National Action Plan on Forced Labour will benefit vulnerable workers and businesses alike.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (ILO News) – Malaysia has taken a major step towards eliminating forced labour with the launch of a first ever National Action Plan to combat the practice.

Developed by the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR) with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the National Action Plan on Forced Labour (NAPFL) 2021-2025 focuses on awareness, enforcement, labour migration as well as access to remedy and support services with the aim to eliminate forced labour in Malaysia by 2030.

It was officially launched by Minister of Human Resources Yang Berhormat Datuk Seri Saravanan Murugan in Kuala Lumpur 26 November 2021 at an event attended by representatives of government, workers and employers representatives, civil society and development partners.

Ms. Chihoko Asada-Miyakawa, the ILO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific welcomed Malaysia’s commitment to eradicate forced labour and called the National Action Plan a significant step in the right direction.

“The National Action Plan on Forced Labour is an important tool to prevent and eliminate forced labour practices in Malaysia and to protect its victims. While workers are the primary beneficiaries, enterprises should also gain as more sustainable and human rights-centred business practices strengthen their global competitiveness,” she said.

The NAPFL sets out actions to be carried out by government, employers and workers organisations as well as civil society. Legal compliance and enforcement related to forced labour will be improved and migration management, including recruitment practices, strengthened. Victims of forced labour will be provided with improved access to remedy, support and protective services. In addition, awareness and understanding of forced labour will be enhanced among workers, employers and the government, young people and the general public. A review will take place in 2023 to take stock of progress on NAPFL implementation.

The launch of the NAPFL follows a two-year development process undertaken by MOHR and the ILO’s US Department of Labour-funded project “From Protocol to Practice: A Bridge to Global Action on Forced Labour” in close collaboration with the Malaysian Employers Federation and Malaysian Trade Union Congress. This saw consultations held in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak involving government, workers, employers, civil society, academia and young people.

“Developing this action plan has been a huge undertaking. The process in itself has strengthened cooperation among different stakeholders. It has contributed to increased knowledge and awareness about the issues and the approaches to deal with them,” said Ms Asada-Miyakawa.

Malaysia is in the process of ratifying the 2014 Protocol to ILO’s Forced Labour Convention, 1930. This requires member States to take effective measures to prevent forced labour, protect victims and ensure their access to justice. Malaysia ratified the Forced Labour Convention in 1957. In addition, the government had approved for Malaysia to become a Pathfinder country under the SDG Alliance 8.7, to accelerate efforts to eradicate forced labour.