US to say China among worst on human trafficking

US to say China among worst on human trafficking

- Picture by Siow Saw FengKUALA LUMPUR, June 28 ― Malaysia should stop treating human trafficking victims as criminals if it wishes to be promoted to the top tier in the United States' annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, Amnesty International said today.

It pointed to ethnic Uighurs, a Muslim minority in China's west, being coerced into forced labour and to Beijing's wholesale repatriation of North Koreans without checking to see if they were trafficking victims. Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and senior adviser, planned to attend the ceremony.

The U.S. State Department was expected to unveil later Tuesday a 2017 human trafficking report that downgrades China to the lowest "Tier 3" category, which includes North Korea, Zimbabwe and Syria.

"Ending human trafficking is a major foreign policy priority of the Trump administration", she said.

The human rights watchdog's executive director Shamini Darshini said there are still many issues that Putrajaya needs to address when it comes to human trafficking, despite its status upgrade from Tier 2 Watch List to just Tier 2.

Myanmar was upgraded to the Tier 2 Watch List of nations that deserve special scrutiny, from Tier 3, which includes those countries not complying with minimum US standards and making no significant effort to do so.

"As we have said repeatedly, no country has the right to speak irresponsibly on China's domestic affairs", Lu said at a daily briefing in Beijing.

It wasn't immediately clear what led the administration to downgrade China, but previous editions of the annual human trafficking report have cited China as a "source, destination and transit country" for forced labor and sex trafficking.

"It threatens public safety and national security. It goes to the government of Korea, which confiscates most of that obviously", Tillerson said.

Tillerson singled out North Korea as one of the most egregious offenders, noting the country has forced 50,000 to 80,000 people to work overseas, mainly in China and Russian Federation, while their pay goes directly to the government. "That's why we must pursue an end to the scourge of human trafficking". China was classified in Tier 2 Watch List in last year's report.

The North regime receives hundreds of millions of dollars per year from forced labor, he said.

"Today we take another key step towards that goal", Tillerson said.

But the elimination of both Myanmar and Iraq from a special list of countries that use child soldiers brought a strong condemnation from Human Rights Watch, which called the State Department's claim of their improvement a "lie". "Instead, the State Department isn't even acknowledging Iraq has a child soldier problem", she said.

"Taking (Myanmar) and Iraq off the list when they continue to use child soldiers is both contrary to USA law and harms children still in the ranks", Jo Becker, children's rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Monday.

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