Friday, June 30, 2017

Myanmar Ranking Improves

June 29, 2017
The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that Myanmar is no longer one of the world’s worst offenders on human trafficking and removed Myanmar from the blacklist of foreign governments who use child soldiers.

In the same annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report in which Myanmar improved its ranking, the U.S. State Department demoted China to the lowest ranking because of its trafficking record, putting it in the same category as North Korea, Zimbabwe and Syria.

Myanmar was promoted for its efforts against recruitment of child soldiers and its prosecution of government officials under a human trafficking law. Myanmar had been demoted to the lowest tier last year, shortly after it shifted to civilian government, ending decades of military-backed rule.

The report praised several instances of improved human rights last year, including the case of the Ava Tailor shop in Kyauktada, where two girls were held in slave-like conditions for years.

“In one high-profile forced labour case, three children were physically abused and forced to work in a tailor shop in Yangon over the course of five years with little to no pay. Two police commanders dismissed initial reports of the abuse, prompting a local journalist to file a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The NHRC brokered a financial settlement with perpetrators rather than referring the case to prosecution under the anti-trafficking laws. Following public outcry over the NHRC’s inadequate response to the case, four commissioners stepped down, the police chiefs who had ignored the initial reports were investigated, and demoted to auxiliary positions, and the ATTF police initiated the prosecution of six tailor shop perpetrators”, the report said.

Myanmar’s elevation is a boost for State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration, which has faced criticism from human rights groups.

Ivanka Trump, the senior White House adviser and daughter of President Donald Trump, said ending human trafficking was in both the moral and strategic interests of the U.S., describing the effort as a “major foreign policy priority” for the administration.

“As a mother, this is much more than a policy priority,” she said at a ceremony to unveil the report. “It is a clarion call into action in defense of the vulnerable and the exploited.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the roughly 20 million victims of human trafficking globally illustrate how much more work must be done.

“Regrettably, our challenge is enormous,” Mr. Tillerson said. “Human trafficking is becoming more nuanced and more difficult to identify. Much of these activities are going underground, and they’re going online.”

While some human rights groups and politicians criticised Myanmar’s rise in the rankings, other American lawmakers praised the administration’s handling of the rankings, including Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who had questioned the Obama administration’s decision to upgrade several countries in recent years. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Corker called this year’s report “a step forward in efforts to improve the transparency and integrity of the rankings.”

The demotion of China in the rankings this year was a public rebuke of China’s human rights record by the Trump administration, which has previously avoided direct, public criticism of Beijing and other major powers on rights issues.

In the annual Trafficking in Persons report, the Department of State places each country onto one of three tiers based on the extent of their governments’ efforts to comply with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”

A Tier 1 ranking indicates that a government has acknowledged the existence of human trafficking, made efforts to address the problem, and complies with the TVPA’s minimum standards.

Each year, governments need to demonstrate appreciable progress in combating trafficking to maintain a Tier 1 ranking.

Ref; The Global New Light of Myanmar

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