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This spring, investigators discovered mass graves of human trafficking victims in Malaysia. How did the U.S. State Department respond? By upgrading its assessment of Malaysia’s human rights efforts. According to Reuters, trafficking experts in the department had given the country a poor rating, but political appointees overruled them.
There’s only one reason why the State Department would change Malaysia’s status: to ease the country’s inclusion in the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP — a massive 12-country trade and investment pact currently being negotiated by the Obama administration.
Congress recently granted President Obama fast-track powers to complete negotiations on the TPP without opening it up to scrutiny by Congress or the public. But Congress did one thing right: It included trade restrictions on dealing with countries that have the worst records in combating human trafficking. Malaysia happens to be one of them.