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Testimony before House Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations: “Get it Right This Time: A Victims-Centered Trafficking in Persons Report”

By Fortify Rights  •  March 22, 2016

Mr. Chairman and other distinguished members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. I had the honor of testifying last year, and once again my colleagues and I at Fortify Rights thank you for your leadership in working to end human trafficking worldwide.

We have seen and documented the scourge of human trafficking in Southeast Asia, and it should be noted that governments in the region are not impervious to the U.S. Department of State annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report and tier-ranking process. Objective TIP rankings with time-bound requirements help focus the attention and behavior of governments toward the promotion and protection of human rights and ending all forms of human trafficking.

We regret that last year’s TIP report failed, in our view, to accurately assess Malaysia and Myanmar’s efforts to combat human trafficking. Malaysia was upgraded from Tier-3 to Tier-2 Watch-List and Myanmar remained for yet another year at Tier-2 Watch-List, despite evidence that both countries failed to adequately combat human trafficking in 2014. We believe that political and economic calculations factored into the decision to undeservingly reward each country. This undermined the objectivity and integrity of the TIP-ranking process and the very effectiveness of it.

I would like to focus my testimony on the performance of Myanmar, Thailand, and Malaysia. This year, Fortify Rights recommends that the U.S. Department of State downgrade Myanmar to Tier-3 status; maintain Thailand at Tier-3 status; and downgrade Malaysia to Tier-3 status. In our view, Myanmar and Malaysia failed to take significant action to combat human trafficking. The Government of Thailand has showed signs of progress during this past year, particularly on a policy-level within the fishing industry, but much work remains to be done. A Tier-3 ranking for Thailand for another 12 months would provide additional time to ensure that reforms take root and key improvements are realized, particularly with regard to ensuring protection for Rohingya and other survivors of human trafficking.

Download this full testimony here.

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This post is in: ASEAN, Business and Human Rights, Children and Youth, Crimes Against Humanity, Displacement, Economy, Health, Human Rights, Human Trafficking, International Relations, Law, Military Regime, Political Prisoners

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