Slaughter Statement on the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report
WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25) today released the following statement on the release of the State Department’s 2016 Trafficking in Persons report:
“It is disheartening that the State Department has once again put political expedience above the victims of human trafficking,” said Rep. Slaughter. “Last year, the administration upgraded Malaysia, not based on any progress that country made in addressing this serious problem, but because they wanted to jam the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal through Congress using special fast track rules. Since then, more graves of trafficking victims have been uncovered and there is little reason to believe that Malaysia’s corrupt government will act to remedy its trafficking crisis. It is bad enough that the administration wants to pass the misguided TPP that will hurt American workers, but now it wants to sweep under the rug the fact that one of the proposed trading partners is a haven for human rights abuses and modern day slavery.”
The State Department issues an annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, rating all countries in one of three categories according to their efforts to address human trafficking. The 2014 TIP report rated Malaysia as Tier 3, the worst category, based on its record as a destination and source for sex trafficking and forced labor.
Under the Trade Promotion Authority bill Congress passed in June 2015, trade agreements that include Tier 3 countries were prohibited from receiving expedited consideration using fast track procedures. Malaysia is one of 12 countries that are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Despite a consistent failure to meet minimum standards to prevent human trafficking, Malaysia was upgraded to Tier 2 in the 2015 TIP report released in July 2015. Reports indicated that senior political staff at State had overruled their own trafficking experts’ assessment that Malaysia should remain at Tier 3.
In June 2015, Rep. Slaughter joined with a bipartisan group of 160 House members in asking Secretary Kerry to keep Malaysia in Tier 3, and she was one of 127 members who cosponsored H.Con.Res 65, which expressed the sense of Congress that Malaysia should have remained in Tier 3. In September 2015, Rep. Slaughter joined with colleagues to request that the State Department Office of Inspector General investigate the circumstances surrounding Malaysia’s TIP upgrade.