Rampant human trafficking in Malaysia became an international controversy when Malaysia was upgraded from blacklist to tier 2 watch list in the “Trafficking in Persons Report” (TIP) only so Malaysia could be included in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is an international trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries.
“The TIP report is sacred, and it represents the US efforts in human rights,” said Representative David Cicilline during the hearing, “Demanding Accountability: Evaluating the 2015 ‘Trafficking in Persons Report’” held by the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.
The TIP is an annual report produced by the State Department to evaluate various countries’ efforts to stop human trafficking. Ranging from Tier 1 to 3, the severity increases. It is an enormous progress for countries to move up a tier level because it implies that those governments have made more powerful efforts against human trafficking. This can include more comprehensive legislation, convictions of human trafficking criminals, and transparency in legal enforcement among others.
The number of convictions of human trafficking in Malaysia this year is only 3, but in reality the cases have not decreased. Instead, many are not even brought to legal prosecution because of government corruption. But Malaysia was still moved up a tier level. Such decision was made because the US government needs to legitimize the TPP, which can only include countries that do not condone severe human rights abuses.
As a result, the United States government and the other countries involved in the TPP are allowing human trafficking and modern day slavery to continue. Pope Francis once said, “Every person, and all people, are equal and must be accorded the same freedom and the same dignity.” Such blatant infringement upon basic human rights should not be tolerated.
The United States was founded on a deep belief in freedom and equality. The TIP report is an effort that embodies such belief. It serves as an important tool for the United States to extend its concern for human rights to our brothers and sisters around the world. Now, by upgrading Malaysia’s tier level without any substantial evidence, the United States government is discrediting the TIP report and betraying the American people who believe in freedom and equality. Let us urge our government to respect the fairness of the TIP report, and to value human dignity before trade benefits.
[[Picture Caption: The Prime Minister's Office Building in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Photo Credit: Chelsey, taken on her trip to Malaysia this past summer.]]
Copyright © 2019 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.