Filipina victor of human trafficking wins criminal case; Malaysian employers convicted
The employers of a trafficked Filipina, Courage*, were convicted by the Sessions Court in Malaysia for violation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (ATIPSOM) Act.
“The conviction is a big win for us during this pandemic and is the first victory for a Filipina in Malaysia. This is an example of the government’s commitment in protecting and promoting the rights of our OFWs,” said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Y. Arriola.
After escaping a rape attempt from her first employer, the now-convicted Malaysian couple took advantage of the situation and forced Courage to work at their home. There she was maltreated and subjected to cruel and abusive acts using a hanger, a flat iron, boiling oil, to name a few.
Bloody and bruised but with the burning desire to survive, Courage escaped from her wicked employers and was found by a Filipino couple in an abandoned lot. She was later brought to the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
After a series of police investigations and a medico-legal examination, her case was classified as under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Act and she was brought to a safe house / shelter for victims of human trafficking.
In the criminal case filed with the Magistrate Court, Courage bravely testified and recounted her ordeal at the hands of her traffickers. She was finally repatriated in June 2018. The employers were initially acquitted, but upon appeal, the Sessions Court reversed this and found both employers guilty of the offense of trafficking and were sentenced to 10-12 years of imprisonment and ordered to pay Courage damages in the amount of RM20,000 (equivalent to PHP 232,976.)
Through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Courage was able to fly back to Malaysia in February 2019 to file a civil case against her employers. DFA also utilized the Legal Assistance Fund to provide a lawyer for her case and pay for the bond or security cost in the civil action, which remains pending to date.
The successful conviction of the human traffickers would not have been possible without the watchful eye of the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, the strong inter-agency cooperation between the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labor and Employment, the Overseas Workers Welfare Association, and Blas Ople Foundation, an NGO representative of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, and the brave quest of Courage for justice.
*Name used to protect the identity of the Filipina — Source: dfa.gov.ph