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US LAWMAKERS CALL FOR INTERNAL PROBE OF MALAYSIA HUMAN TRAFFICKING RANKING?


WASHINGTON,U.S.A. - A group of Democratic lawmakers called on Monday for the U.S. State Department's internal watchdog to investigate the removal of Malaysia from a list of worst offenders in human trafficking following concerns that politics may have played a role in the decision.
The State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, issued in July, upgraded Malaysia from the lowest tier, potentially smoothing the way for a landmark free-trade deal with the Southeast Asian nation and 11 other countries.
Six members of the House of Representatives, including outspoken trade critics Rosa DeLauro and Louise Slaughter(photo), wrote to State Department Inspector General Steve Linick requesting a probe into why Malaysia was moved up a rung.
They cited reports that Malaysia was not doing enough to tackle human trafficking as well as a Reuters examination, published in August, that said the State Department office set up to independently rate countries' efforts was repeatedly overruled by senior U.S. diplomats.
"We are concerned about the role that possible political influence may have played in the development and content of the TIP Report, particularly as it relates to Malaysia's status,"the letter said.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. State Department officials have denied any political interference in the report. 
Secretary of State John Kerry said last month that he had "zero conversation" within the administration about the Asia-Pacific trade talks relative to the decision on Malaysia's upgrade.

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