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KUALA LUMPUR,July 22, 2015:

The Bar Council expressed its unhappiness that Malaysia may be upgraded from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List status in the rankings in the imminent 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report prepared by the United States Department of State.

Its president, Steven Thiru, said any upgrade of Malaysia in the 2015 TIP report would appear to be primarily motivated by a desire to allow Malaysia to be included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

“It has been alleged that the US government’s impending decision to upgrade Malaysia to Tier 2 Watch List is aimed at avoiding complications that may arise in connection with the Barack Obama administration being granted Trade Promotion Authority, which is ‘fast-track’ trade negotiating authority for free trade agreements such as the TPPA.”

He pointed out that the Trade Promotion Authority legislation bars the US from enacting trade deals with countries placed in Tier 3 of the rankings in the TIP report.

Steven said the US must not only look at the measures being formulated by Malaysia to address the scourage of human trafficking but also evaluate the actual implementation and effectiveness.

The TIP report ranks nations according to their willingness and efforts to combat human trafficking. It is considered as the benchmark index for global anti-trafficking commitments.

The US Ambassador to Malaysia had reportedly suggested that the Malaysian government needs to show greater political will in prosecuting human traffickers and protecting their victims.

“An upgrade should only be given as and when it is truly warranted, namely when tangible measures have been effectively implemented and positive results clearly demonstrated, ” Steven said in a statement today.

The Bar Council president said the US must take into consideration the gruesome discovery of the “death camps” and mass graves of victims of human trafficking in May before making any decision.

“Such a discovery is irrefutable proof that human trafficking has been ongoing on a large scale and for a considerable period of time on Malaysian soil.

“The Malaysian government’s alleged ignorance of this atrocity must not be disregarded or rewarded. “

Steven pointed out that the recent amendments to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 had yet to come into force.

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