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Obama administration manipulates human rights report to “fast track” Malaysia’s participation in TPP trade deal

Posted Jul. 27, 2015 / Posted by: Kolin Kearns

WASHINGTON, D.C. The Obama administration has removed Malaysia from the State Department’s list of flagrant violators of human rights related to human trafficking, in order for Congress to give expedited “fast track” consideration to Malaysia, as part of a Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal. A provision in recently-passed Trade Promotion Authority legislation denies consideration by Congress on a quick up-or-down vote of trade agreements with so-called “Tier 3” countries identified in the State Department’s Trafficking of Human Persons Report as having the worst records in combating human trafficking. Malaysia was listed as a Tier 3” country when TPA was enacted. Now, it has been reclassified for transparently political reasons.

An important economic driver of human trafficking in Malaysia is the rapid expansion of industrial scale palm oil plantations that use the forced labor of migrants to meet high demand by multi-national buyers like Cargill and Proctor & Gamble for this cheap vegetable oil used in thousands of food and industrial products. Corporate palm oil plantations in Malaysia are cut from vast acreages of rain forest, thus threatening endangered species and exacerbating global warming.

Ben Schreiber, climate and energy program director at Friends of the Earth U.S. had this statement:

Manipulating the State Department’s report on human trafficking in order to "fast track" Malaysia’s participation in the Pacific trade deal is heartless. There is no basis for upgrading Malaysia’s human rights status. The recent discovery of mass graves with victims of human smuggling in Malaysia makes it clear that this problem has not gone away. This ugly episode highlights the Obama administration’s willingness to sacrifice the rights of Malaysia’s migrant workers on the altar of corporate profits. Palm oil plantations and the multinational buyers of their cheap and environmentally destructive product continue the devastation of Malaysia’s rain forests.

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Expert contact: Ben Schreiber, (202) 222-0752, bschreiber@foe.org

Communications contact: EA Dyson, (202) 222-0730, edyson@foe.org

 

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