WASHINGTON, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)—August 6, 2015. Friends of the Earth and other organizations held a demonstration before Thursday’s Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on the State Department’s recent Trafficking in Persons Report. Media reports indicate senior American diplomats may have inflated Malaysia’s efforts to combat human trafficking in an attempt to facilitate the United States’ negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — to which Malaysia is party.
U.S. TPP negotiators faced a snag in the form of a provision in the Fast Track bill restricting the U.S. from dealing with countries with the worst records in combating human trafficking. But negotiators were able to sidestep this provision when, on the eve of the latest TPP negotiating round, the State Department removed Malaysia from its human rights blacklist. Contrary to the human rights upgrade, Secretary Kerry visited Malaysia Wednesday morning, where he told Malaysia’s Prime Minister that the country needed to do more to address human trafficking.
Friends of the Earth’s Climate and Energy Campaigner Luísa Abbott Galvão issued the following statement in response:
The race to the bottom has hit a new low. The sinister manipulation of what should have been an independently-conducted assessment of human rights efforts demonstrates the extremes to which President Obama is willing to go to further his corporate trade agenda. If President Obama is willing to deliberately downplay modern-day slavery to facilitate trade negotiations, we cannot believe his assurances that his trade deals will elevate environmental and social protections around the world.
This cynical episode further delegitimizes the TPP negotiating process, which has gone from undemocratic to outright dehumanizing. We urge President Obama to negotiate trade deals that improve human lives, not makes concessions out of them.