Obama Administration “Selling Out” Victims of Human Trafficking

Washington –United to End Genocide, a U.S. based human rights advocacy group, criticized the Obama Administration for fueling human suffering with today’s State Department announcement that it will upgrade the status of Malaysia in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

The State Department’s just released Trafficking in Persons report upgraded Malaysia from the lowest Tier-3 ranking to a Tier-2 Watchlist ranking, removing the threat of sanctions and opening the way for Malaysia’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Burma and Thailand maintained their Tier-2 Watchlist and Tier 3 status respectively.

Former U.S. Congressman Tom Andrews, President of United to End Genocide, stated:

"Money talks and today corporate profits have shouted down the cry for justice for the desperate victims of human trafficking in Southeast Asia. Let’s be clear, human trafficking victims have been sold out today. The State Department announcement will help to fuel the growing epidemic of modern day slavery in Southeast Asia.

With this announcement, the U.S. joins the governments of Burma, Malaysia and Thailand as enablers of slave traders and the scourge of human trafficking. It is inexcusable that countries that are at the heart of this crisis could be rewarded in the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons report.

The world witnessed the consequences of this scourge just weeks ago with the discovery of mass graves and in the cries of thousands of Rohingya Muslims trapped at sea after fleeing the march to genocide in Burma.

Malaysia has failed to crack down on traffickers and to take steps to protect trafficking victims, clearly falling short of the minimum standards required by the Trafficking in Persons designations. An upgrade can only be interpreted as allowing political and economic interests to override human rights.

Burma, the source of an overwhelming number of trafficking victims with its relentless persecution of the Rohingya minority, avoided falling to the lowest tier. President Obama has personally criticized the government of Burma for denying its role in the regional trafficking epidemic.

By taking this step the Obama Administration is destroying the credibility of a powerful tool in the fight against atrocities and leaving the world’s most vulnerable populations to suffer the consequences.”

United to End Genocide has traveled to Burma, Malaysia, and Thailand meeting with Rohingya asylum seekers and civil society groups that have been documenting human trafficking in the region.

To read United to End Genocide’s report, “Marching to Genocide in Burma” visit: http://endgenocide.org/marching-genocide-burma-2/