Sign up | Log in



Home  >>  Daily News  >>  ASEAN ANALYSIS


Holier than thou?

By David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs 16 June 2010

Related Stories

June 15,2010
Lack of anticorruption measures still haunts Asean

June 14,2010
Mobile phones fuel change in Asia

June 12,2010
What are we waiting for?

June 11,2010
Recent election may signal a new day in Philippine democracy

June 11, 2010
Thai stocks could hit 900

May 27-28, 2010
Asean chief sees need for drastic political reform in Thailand

May 12, 2010
NGOs cry foul over UN rights forum election of 14 countries

April 8, 2010
Thai unrest, Myanmar elections overshadow Asean summit 


The 10th annual U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report released this past Monday by the U.S. State Department has been criticized by a wide range of countries ranging from Cuba to Singapore.

The U.S. Congress mandated that the State Department establish this report as a kind of moral report card that places the United States in a position of judging other countries on their rank in the worldwide trafficking in human lives.

The categories are 1 to 4, with 1 being the top rating and 4 being the worst.

The 10 members of Asean received these grades: Cambodia and Indonesia, 2; Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, 2W and Burma, always a stalwart on human rights issues, bringing up the rear with a 3. The W stands for “watch list,” indicating that a country might slip back to a lower rating next year.

Clinton said that for the first time, the State Department will rank the United States using the same standards as it uses for the other countries. The country earned the department’s highest ranking, meaning that the government is in full compliance with U.N. anti-trafficking protocol.

Singapore's government said the report did not show enough evidence to downgrade the nation to the watch list this year. "We have read the latest TIP report. It is rather puzzling because the U.S. has not satisfactorily explained how it had arrived at its conclusions," Singapore's foreign ministry said in a statement.

One might question the usefulness of such a report but according to the State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca, who heads the State Department's anti-slavery efforts, that 116 countries have adopted anti-trafficking laws since the United Nations enacted a law against modern slavery 10 years ago. Last year marked a high-water mark, both in identifying trafficking victims and in mounting successful prosecutions. The number of persons trafficked each year is reported to reach 12 million.

Many countries have protested that the report is unfair and there is a suspicion that they could have a point.

The United States still remains a rather isolated and insulated country, even after 9/11. How many of its citizens can’t distinguish between Taiwan and Thailand? Undoubtedly, in this reporter’s travels, there are many. At a recent gathering, a Thai Ph.D. reported that fully half of the members of the House of Representatives, the lower house in the U.S. government, lacked visas and/or passports for foreign travel.

In the face of Internet competition, international reporting by U.S. media of all types has been cut back. So there is a real question as to what kinds of data the State Department is receiving and how it is obtained and assessed to produce such a judgmental report on other countries.

More transparency in what data is used to assemble the report might quell the number of protesting countries or might even raise the issue of the accuracy and validity of the report and then what country would be “holier than thou?”


Comment on this Article. Send them to

Letters that do not contain full contact information cannot be published.
Letters become the property of AseanAffairs and may be republished in any format.
They typically run 150 words or less and may be edited
submit your comment in the box below






1.  Verifier

1. Verifier

For security purposes, we ask that you enter the security code that is shown in the graphic. Please enter the code exactly as it is shown in the graphic.
Your Code
Enter Code

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Special Feature | Features | News | Magazine | Events | TV | Press Release | Advertise With us

| Terms of Use | Site Map | Privacy Policy  | DISCLAIMER |

Version 5.0
Copyright © 2006-2017 TIME INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT ENTERPRISES CO., LTD. All rights reserved.
Bangkok, Thailand