State Department willing to overlook Malaysia's mass graves for the sake of TPP

The fast-track bill rammed through Congress last month lets the president walk right into any trade deal he wants, so long as it's with countries that have decent human rights records.

The State Department had previously classed Malaysia as a "Tier 3" country based on its abysmal human rights record, whose abuses revolve around trafficked migrant workers. 139 mass-graves for trafficked workers were discovered two months ago.

Fast Track authority only applies to countries that rate as "Tier 2" or higher, and Malaysia is one of the TPP countries that the White House is seeking to rope into the Trans Pacific Partnership. So John Kerry's State Department waved a wand, and without any explanation, upgraded Malaysia to Tier 2 — mass graves and all.

It appears that this may have been a move too far for some Senators, as 19 of them are demanding some answers from Secretary of State John Kerry about this decision to "upgrade" Malaysia.

In the letter, senators said that upgrading Malaysia would weaken the U.S. government's international credibility on human rights issues.

"Fighting human trafficking is one of the great moral challenges of our time," the senators wrote. "It is therefore with grave concern that we now hear Malaysia may be upgraded in this year's Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report based on developments that occurred after the end of the review period. A premature upgrade of Malaysia would undermine the integrity of the TIP report process and compromise our international efforts to fight human trafficking."

Senators Up In Arms Over State Department Plan To Deliberately Ignore Malaysian Mass Graves Just To Get TPP Deal [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]