Venezuela, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Zimbabwe and others joined Russia and Thailand at the bottom of an annual ranking compiled by the State Department and announced by Secretary of State John Kerry.

"Countries in 'Tier 3', the lowest category, are those whose governments do not respect international norms or laws on trafficking and are not making significant efforts to do so," the report said. But the promotion of Malaysia and Cuba one notch from Tier 3 to the 'Tier 2 Watch List' drew allegations that President Barack Obama's administration had politicized the rankings to reward favored capitals.

Malaysia is among Pacific Rim nations currently negotiating a trade accord with Washington, while Cuba and the United States re-established diplomatic ties last week, ending decades of hostility. Asked whether Malaysia's role in the trade talks played was a factor, undersecretary of state for human rights Sarah Sewall insisted, "No, no, no."

The report stated Kuala Lumpur had made 'significant efforts' in fighting trafficking. While Sewall said the may discovery of mass graves believed to be used by Malaysian people-smugglers near the Thai border was a 'core concern' for the State Department, it came after the report's review period ended in March.

Latest News from World News Desk