Levin: Malaysia Upgrade in Annual Trafficking Report “Extremely Concerning”
WASHINGTON, DC – Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today issued the following statement after Malaysia was upgraded from Tier 3 to the Tier 2 Watch List in the U.S. Department of State’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report:
“The Administration’s upgrade of Malaysia in the human trafficking report – without evidence of significant changes on the ground – is extremely concerning. The Administration is negotiating a trade agreement that obligates countries to adhere to the International Labor Organization’s basic standards on worker rights, which bans forced labor. Malaysia’s human trafficking problem – which is a forced labor problem – puts it in direct violation of these provisions in the TPP agreement. Instead of paving the way for Malaysia’s participation in TPP, we should be working on actions that Malaysia should be taking to come into compliance with these standards. That is why we have insisted that our trading partners come into compliance with these standards before Congress votes. Reports and promises of progress are not enough – real changes must be made on the ground.”
Earlier this month, Rep. Levin helped lead a bipartisan group of 160 Members of Congress in calling on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to not upgrade Malaysia to the Tier 2 Watch List in the TIP Report, citing the country’s failure to make substantive improvements in combating human trafficking.
From 2010 to 2013, Malaysia was included on the Tier 2 Watch List, but was automatically downgraded to Tier 3 in the 2014 TIP Report because of the country’s consistent failure to make substantive progress in addressing its trafficking challenges, and also to comply with the minimum standards set out in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The 2014 TIP Report found Malaysia’s foreign workforce was particularly vulnerable to forced labor, and noted how institutional failures – such as a lack of enforcement of Malaysian laws to crack down on trafficking – have exacerbated these issues.