Malaysian prisoners may face ‘forced labour’ on palm oil plantations

Shortage of foreign workers behind plan by producers to employ inmates as a stopgap measure

Prisoners are expected to be put to work on Malaysia’s giant palm oil plantations to make up for an acute labour shortage heightened by the coronavirus pandemic.

But workers’ rights experts have warned that the proposal by the country’s palm oil producers may constitute “institutionalised forced labour” in an industry already accused of widespread abuse and exploitation of workers.

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