The government has expressed its “strong opposition” to comments about Macao in the latest US State Department’s 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report.
A statement by the Government Information Bureau (GCS) said that concerning the human trafficking situation in Macao “the report… has ignored facts [through] wrong interpretations, false deductions and unreasonable speculation.
“This is especially seen by the bias against Macao’s legal system and independent judicial system, and the false accusations [regarding] the efficacy of Macao’s governance.”
The report, which seeks to provide an overview of slavery around the world, said that while Macao does not “fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking”, it is making significant efforts to do so.
“These efforts included training numerous police, customs, and social welfare officials; increasing funding for governmental anti-trafficking efforts; holding labour rights seminars for migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation; and enacting legislation to deter practices among employment agencies that contribute to debt-based coercion.
However, the report noted, “the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, even considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity.
“Authorities did not identify or provide assistance to any victims for the second consecutive year, and the government did not initiate any trafficking investigations or prosecutions or convict any traffickers. The government has never identified a victim of forced labour”.
As a result, Macao remains on the US State Department’s Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year.
The GCS statement countered that the Macao government “is determined to combat… trafficking in persons, and has been relentless in its efforts in this regard,” adding that the “government’s law-enforcement effort in combatting human trafficking has been effectively carried out under the supervision of the local judiciary.”
According to the statement, “the decline in cases, relating to human trafficking and exploitation of labour, recorded in recent years demonstrates the efficient collaboration between the government and local communities.”
The US report included Macao in its so-called Tier 2 Watch List, which refers to jurisdictions where the “estimated number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing”, as well as those that allegedly fail “to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year”.
The GCS statement described Macao’s Tier 2 ranking by the US State Department as ” unreasonable and unacceptable”.
The statement underlined the ongoing efforts by the government’s Human Trafficking Deterrent Measures Concern Committee in preventing and tackling human trafficking and protecting human trafficking victims in conjunction with non-governmental organisations.