[April 30, 2014]WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S.
lawmakers called on the Obama administration on Tuesday to punish
countries that do too little to fight human trafficking, including
Thailand and Malaysia, and said Myanmar should not receive a waiver to
avoid possible sanctions over its record.
Citing reports on the exploitation of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim
minority in their home country as well as Thailand and Malaysia,
Republican U.S. Representative Chris Smith said authorities have
done too little to protect them.
"Rohingya are leaving Burma by the thousands to escape religious
persecution," Smith said at a House of Representatives subcommittee
hearing on Tier Rankings and the U.S. State Department's annual
Trafficking in Persons report, citing a Reuters investigation into
the treatment of Rohingya Muslims.
Myanmar sees Rohingya as illegal immigrants and denies them
"According to reports put out by Reuters, Thai authorities are
selling Rohingya to human traffickers, where they are held in
'tropical gulags' until relatives pay ransom," Smith said, adding
that those who do not pay are sold into sex slavery or hard labor,
and many die from abuse or disease.
In the report, "Tier 1" countries are those who meet
anti-trafficking standards. "Tier 2" do not but are making a
significant effort to do so. "Tier 3" countries do not meet the
standards and not making significant effort to do so.
Tier 3 countries are open to sanction by the U.S. government. A U.S.
law also includes a watch list, in which countries on Tier 2 for two
years are downgraded to Tier 3 unless they receive presidential
waivers, available for two additional years.