The 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report released on June 20, relegated the three countries to the third and lowest tier in the grading system that evaluates governments' responses to the issue of modern day slavery.
In Thailand, the widespread "official complicity in human trafficking" continues to plague the country's poor record in fighting sex trafficking and forced labor including in the fishing industry, Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-At-Large to Combat Trafficking in Persons, said shortly after the report was unveiled.
The congressionally mandated report also stated that little progress had been made in Malaysia to address the exploitation of foreign migrant workers who are routinely subjected to forced labor conditions, many of whom had been recruited under false pretenses and later coerced into sex work.
A similar situation unfolded in Venezuela where traffickers baited women and girls from the country's poorer regions with the promise of jobs in urban areas, only to force them into prostitution, according to the report.
CdeBaca said all three countries had been automatically demoted after four consecutive years on the tier two watch list for failing to demonstrate serious efforts to combat these human trafficking issues.
The nations are now listed alongside tier three countries such as North Korea, Iran and Syria and could be subject to future sanctions by the US, although penalties are not automatically given to those sitting on the bottom tier.
On the other hand, some of the 188 countries listed on the report had made great strides in addressing their trafficking problem and had been upgraded to a tier two or even tier one ranking, which catalogues countries currently meeting the minimum standards in fighting the $150 billion a year industry.
China is one of those countries elevated to a tier two status, while Chile and Switzerland both moved up to tier one in 2014.
In announcing the release of the report on Friday, Secretary of State, John Kerry said the findings were a "call to action."
Secretary of State John Kerry released the State Department’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report during a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State on June 20. Credit: Department of State
"It’s a call to conscience…a reminder of what happens in many dark places that need light," Kerry said. "We’re not exempt. More than 20 million people, a conservative estimate, are victims of human trafficking. And the United States is the first to acknowledge that no government anywhere yet is doing enough."
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