Statement from ATEST on Possible Malaysia Upgrade in the 2015 TIP Report

For Release: July 9, 2015

In response to press reports that the U.S. State Department will upgrade Malaysia on the 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, Melysa Sperber, Director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) said:

“If Malaysia is upgraded from Tier 3, the United States will have sold out victims of human trafficking.

“Any decision to upgrade Malaysia in the Trafficking in Persons Report is purely political and incredibly detrimental to combating human trafficking in that country. An upgrade lacks all credibility and fails the basic laugh test. Thousands of trafficked men, women, and children are in dire jeopardy each day in Malaysia: ignoring their plight in favor of trade relations is a slap in the face by the United States. Trade should be used as a lever to fight human trafficking not as a free pass to countries that make products Americans want.

“This decision not only threatens the influence of the TIP Report but seriously undermines the legacy that President Obama and Secretary Kerry have built in combating trafficking here at home and around the world. The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons office makes great efforts to produce an accurate and credible report. If these press reports are true it shows how little the U.S. government cares about honesty and integrity in its reporting on human trafficking.

“Malaysia has forced labor in agriculture, construction, electronics, textiles and domestic service in homes, and was rightly given a Tier 3 ranking last year—a move we and other groups in the trafficking world supported. Now, in upgrading Malaysia, the State Department will show that it values trade over human rights, its own credibility, and the suffering of trafficked men, women, and children around the world.”


Notes to Editor
Malaysia is part of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The Menendez amendment to related fast track legislation established reasonable anti-trafficking demands for fast track consideration of the TPP, primarily that a country in the TPP may not be on Tier 3 on the State Department’s TIP Report.

The Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST) is a U.S. based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. ATEST member organizations include: Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), ECPAT-USA, Free the Slaves, Futures Without Violence (FUTURES), International Justice Mission, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), National Network for Youth (NN4Y), Polaris, Safe Horizon, Solidarity Center, Verité, Vital Voices Global Partnership, and World Vision. ATEST is a project of Humanity United.  Learn more at