Local concern groups on Friday welcomed a US report which accused Hong Kong of not doing enough to fight human trafficking, but let the city off with a reprieve.
The annual "Trafficking in Persons" report by the US State Department ranks governments on their efforts to combat human trafficking – as well as their compliance with American standards for eliminating trafficking.
Governments that remain on the Tier 2 Watch List for more than two years are automatically downgraded to Tier 3, where they face potential sanctions.
But the US says Hong Kong was granted a waiver because a written plan outlined earlier this year – if implemented – represents significant efforts to meet US minimum standards.
The SAR government took strong exception to the latest grading given to the city, saying the report had been unfair and that Washington's disregard for Hong Kong's efforts was "deplorable and unacceptable".
Tina Chan, programme manager at the Stop Trafficking of People organisation, said they welcome the government's recent efforts. But she said they'd still not seen any signs of the plan being implemented – or a clear timetable.
She also said she was concerned at the stronger tone used by the SAR government in response to the report.
Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who's pushing for a comprehensive bill to combat human trafficking, said the government should take the report as constructive criticism.
He said a proposed private members' bill on human trafficking is getting official certification from the Department of Justice, and this formal process needs to be completed before it can be tabled in the Legislative Council.