Human rights advocates on Monday accused the State Department of making political calculations when it upgraded Malaysia and Cuba in the annual ranking of where countries stand in combating human trafficking. Both countries were removed from the list of the worst offenders in the Trafficking in Persons Report issued Monday. Last year, they were Tier 3 countries, a category reserved for nations that don’t meet minimum standards to fight modern-day slavery, and aren’t doing anything to improve.

This year, 23 nations got that designation. But Cuba and Malaysia were listed among 44 countries a notch up, on a Tier 2 list.

“It really looks for the first time like the report has been used to further a number of political aims, which is a terrible development,” said Sarah Margon, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch.