Senators oppose upgrade for Malaysia in trafficking report

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eighteen U.S. senators are expressing deep concern that Malaysia could be lifted from a human trafficking blacklist.

A U.S. government official told The Associated Press last week that Malaysia will be upgraded from the lowest "tier 3" ranking it received in last year's State Department report on Trafficking in Persons.

That possibility has angered lawmakers who have questioned whether it is intended to smooth the way for a U.S.-backed trade deal of Pacific Rim countries including Malaysia.

The senators, mostly Democrats, say in a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State John Kerry that upgrading Malaysia would weaken the credibility of the rankings.

They also complain the report is five weeks overdue.

The department has said this year's report is still being finalized and it's premature to speculate on the rankings.