Back Door Deals Continue on Trade
Since Congress squeezed through a deal on fast track and it became law, advocates have been keeping an eye out for sneaky maneuvers that could bring us even closer to passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Last week, we heard reports that the U.S. State Department is considering removing Malaysia from the “worst of” human traffickers list-- Tier 3 in the State Department’s Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report-- and elevating them to Tier 2. This upgrade is shocking because the Malaysian government has done nothing to combat the horrific levels of human trafficking in their country. In fact, in May 2015 alone almost 150 graves of victims of human trafficking were uncovered in Malaysia. Read NETWORK's response to the rumored change in Malaysia's human trafficking status.
It is most likely that this reported change in tier is directly related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership because doing so circumvents a requirement in the recently-passed trade promotion authority (fast track) legislation that bars trade agreements with Tier 3 countries on the TIP report from receiving fast track treatment.
The State Department has emphasized that the TIP report has not been finalized and has declined to comment on whether or not Malaysia has been upgraded from the lowest tier. If Malaysia is upgraded to Tier 2, the U.S. will be disregarding the suffering and death of trafficking victims and sending a dangerous message to countries that continue to turn a blind eye to exploitation. The move also threatens the integrity of the TIP report and the commitment of the U.S. government to ending human trafficking.
We must urge President Obama to uphold high standards for human rights, rather than make exceptions for countries when convenient. Send a message to President Obama and to Congress to let them know that we cannot put economic gains before the interests of victims of human trafficking.