Myanmar Decries Demotion on US Human Trafficking Blacklist

Myanmar Decries Demotion on US Human Trafficking BlacklistMyanmar Decries Demotion on US Human Trafficking Blacklist

Myanmar called sad and regrettable a move by the United States to place the country on a list of the world’s worst human trafficking offenders, while rights groups welcome it as long overdue.

The demotion came on Thursday when the US State Department released its closely watched annual Trafficking in Persons report, which examines 188 governments’ efforts in combating modern-day slavery, AP reported.

It says the Southeast Asian country has failed to meet “the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking”. It also removed Thailand from the blacklist despite what the State Department described as widespread forced labor in the country’s seafood industry.

The downgrade for Myanmar appeared aimed at sending a message to the country’s new democratically elected government, headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, and its still-powerful military to curb use of forced labor, sex trafficking and the recruitment of children as soldiers into the armed forces.

Suu Kyi has been criticized for failing to address widespread persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in the Buddhist country.

Her government criticized the demotion as failing to recognize the country’s progress.

“We are very sad that we have not been recognized for making positive changes,” said presidential spokesman, Zaw Htay. “In their report, they didn’t mention the progress and development we have made for our country.”

Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry called the downgrade “regrettable” and urged the US not to impose restrictions that would hamper US-Myanmar relations.