Macao has blasted back at the 2022 report by the US State Department which put its record at combatting human trafficking at the same level as Afghanistan and Russia.
The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which seeks to provide an overview of slavery around the world, downgraded Macao from Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 3, the lowest possible. For the past two years, Macao has been on the Tier 2 Watch List.
Other countries classified as Tier 3 are Afghanistan, Brunei, China, Russia and Venezuela.
The report said that Macao does not “fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.”
“Despite the lack of significant efforts, the government took some steps to address trafficking, including investigating one potential case and disseminating awareness-raising materials … however, for the third consecutive year, the [Macao] government did not identify or provide services to any victims, nor did it initiate any trafficking prosecutions,” the report noted.
The report added that “human traffickers exploit foreign victims in Macao. Traffickers recruit victims, primarily from mainland PRC, Russia, and Southeast Asia, using false advertisements for jobs, such as singing and modelling or work in casinos … Some employment agencies overcharge workers recruitment fees of approximately two to three months’ salary and withhold workers’ passports, potentially leading to debt-based coercion.”
The Macao government yesterday expressed strong opposition to Macao-related references in the 2022 TIP report. The Office of the Secretary for Security said that the report’s references to Macao attempted, with “pure conjecture and bias”, to deny the continuous efforts made by the government to prevent and combat human trafficking and the good results it had achieved.
Despite the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Macao since 2020, work related to fighting human trafficking has been carried out as usual, maintaining Macao’s sound situation of its long-term low crime rate or even zero crimes in the area of human trafficking, said the office.
“For years, the US report has failed to present the truth about the real situation in Macao and the government feels deeply indignant about the improper comments made by the US side on Macao’s law enforcement and judiciary work despite years of representations lodged by Macao.”