US says Myanmar no longer among worst on human trafficking

Posted June 28, 2017

In the report, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described human trafficking as "one of the most tragic human rights issues of our time". China's communist government is likely to register strong protest on the report, The Guardian reports.

Using information from human rights organisations and media, the US State Department's 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report cited forcible repatriation of North Koreans without screening for indications that they had been trafficking victims and coercion of Uighurs by local officials into forced labour. The Tier 3 rating can trigger sanctions limiting access to United States and worldwide aid, but USA presidents frequently waive such action.

China is joined by Iran, North Korea, Russia, Sudan, Syria and a number of other countries where human trafficking continues to be a serious problem. The US may also place sanctions against countries with Tier 3 rankings.

Myanmar was upgraded to the Tier 2 Watch List from Tier 3, beside Thailand, among nations making significant efforts to meet minimum USA standards.

However, President Donald Trump retains the authority to waive the sanctions in US national interest.

Moving China to the Tier 3 list alongside the mostly less-developed or otherwise conflict-stricken countries could put a strain on recently improved U.S. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters that "no country is immune from this problem and China does not appreciate being judged according to US domestic laws and standards", NPR's Anthony Kuhn reported on Morning Edition. He continued, "An estimated 50,000 to 80,000 North Koreans citizens are working overseas as forced labor, primarily in Russian Federation and China".

It said Bangkok "did not aggressively prosecute and convict officials complicit in trafficking crimes, and official complicity continued to impede anti-trafficking efforts".

Daehung, a company based in North Korea's coastal Rason Special Economic Zone, had contracted with the Chinese firm to pay each worker 800 yuan (U.S.$126) per month along with room and board, but then promised the workers only 300 yuan (U.S.$47) of that amount, the source said.

The United States has asserted that Myanmar is no longer one of the world's worst offenders on human trafficking, while removing both Myanmar and Iraq from a list of countries that use child soldiers.

"We are firmly opposed to the irresponsible remarks made by the USA based on its domestic law about others' efforts against human trafficking", Lu said.

More complex human trafficking cases-such as labor trafficking-are especially hard to identify, and can necessitate more interagency coordination requiring additional time and resources.

Mr. Trump chose to brush aside his fierce campaign criticisms of China's currency and trade practices in hopes that the country would rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. Following the ceremony, the Heroes will travel to cities across the United States to engage with the American people through an International Visitor Leadership Program.

The report said that "many criminal justice systems around the world are faced with cases that exceed their processing capacity". He tied China's downgrade in part to its acceptance of laborers from North Korea.

In Central America's Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) the report found that the countries' gangs often subject children to forced labor by pressuring them to sell and transport drugs.