Washington –The U.S. State Department today released the Trafficking in Persons report, an annual assessment of countries’ efforts to combat human trafficking issues. The new report includes an upgraded ranking for Malaysia from the lowest Tier 3 category to a new Tier 2 status – despite the facts on the ground and views of experts noting that Malaysia has not made progress on the issues. Many observers have speculated that the upgraded Malaysia trafficking ranking is driven by the Obama Administration’s desire to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, noting the existence of an amendment that would threaten to scuttle trade pacts involving Tier 3 nations.
The following statement is from Shane Larson, Legislative Director of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), reacting to today’s announcement:
“A bad trade deal for the American people is made all the worse when its pursuit tramples on our country's basic values and makes a mockery of the supposed independence of the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report. The facts are clear - Malaysia has a serious human trafficking problem that has not improved and the Obama Administration is placing the completion of the TPP ahead of human trafficking concerns.
"Further, Malaysia's upgraded ranking calls into question TPP backers' claims about this trade deal upholding and advancing global improvements on human and labor rights and environmental standards. We simply should not be rewarding bad actor countries like Malaysia with inclusion in trade deals.
"For those who followed the fast track debate closely, it shouldn't be a surprise that backers of the TPP would resort to any means possible to finish this deal. But that we are not surprised shouldn't diminish the audacious and troubling nature of today's announcement."