Dear Columban Advocates,
Throughout the world, Columban missionaries have dedicated their ministries to the accompaniment and rehabilitation of labor and sex trafficking victims.
In this year’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, the U.S. State Department upgraded the country of Malaysia from a Tier 3–the worst rating-- for trafficking violators – to a Tier 2 Watch List. This comes after the passage of an amendment to Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or “fast track” legislation, which bars the U.S. from trading with a country with a Tier 3 ranking.
Malaysia is one of the 12 countries included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement involving 40 percent of the world’s trade, and the upgrade to its trafficking status may be intended to ensure the passage of the trade deal.
There is no reason to believe that Malaysia’s human trafficking response has improved. In May 2015, there was a mass grave found along the Malaysia/Thailand border with 139 graves of suspected trafficking and smuggling victims. Upgrading Malaysia’s TIP score under the light of its current human rights violations is unacceptable. We cannot favor free trade over the right of human dignity.
The decision to upgrade Malaysia’s ranking greatly undermines the integrity of the TIP report, which Columbans have contributed to in the past and rely on for information about their host countries.
Let us heed the words of Pope Francis who urges us “to remove the causes of this shameful plague” that is unworthy of “civil society.” Global trade can be a means of growth and a tool for development when used well. Until that is a reality, we must advocate for the rights of trafficking victims who are exploited in the name of profit.
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
[[Picture Caption: Columban Father Shay Cullen testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human Rights in April to give an update about trafficking conditions in the Philippines. The purpose of the hearing was to review last year’s Trafficking in Persons Report. (Photo: Jon Melegrito/ Inquirer.net)]]
Copyright © 2019 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.