June 28, 2018

Menendez Reacts to State Department’s 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report

Criticizes Trump Admin’s family separation policy by quoting TIP report analysis: “Children in institutional care, including government-run facilities, can be easy targets for traffickers.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement in reaction to the publication of the 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report by the U.S. State Department.

“The State Department missed yet another opportunity to restore the Trafficking in Persons Report to what it once was - the gold standard for unbiased, accurate reporting on countries’ efforts to end the scourge of human trafficking. While I applaud some of the Department’s decisions in this report, including the long overdue downgrade of Malaysia, it still chose to go easy on many countries that clearly do not meet the legal standards.

“I continue to believe that TIP rankings must be based on an objective assessment of the minimum standards in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a country’s efforts to meet them, and the impact that government actions are having on improving the lives of trafficking victims. That is why this year’s upgrades of Bahrain, Thailand, and Uzbekistan, and granting a waiver to Cuba, are simply unjustifiable and troubling given the facts on the ground.

“The credibility of the TIP Report ultimately derives from the United States’ leadership on human rights. A number of this Administration’s words and actions have eroded that leadership, most recently its policy of separating children from their families at the border. As the TIP Report says, ‘Children in institutional care, including government-run facilities, can be easy targets for traffickers.’

“It is now more important than ever that Congress swiftly pass my Trafficking In Persons Report Integrity Act to reform the ranking process and ensure that it is no longer subject to political manipulation or inconsistent analysis. Any government that traffics its own citizens deserves nothing less than our strongest condemnation. Each year that goes by without reform is a disservice to the millions of trafficking victims this process strives to protect.”

Senator Menendez has led the fight in Congress to stop trade agreements with countries that have the worst human trafficking records like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In 2015, Menendez authored an amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that for the first time prohibited expedited “fast track” congressional consideration for any trade deal including a country ranked Tier 3 in a TIP report. 

Menendez then helped bring the TIP process under scrutiny after the 2015 report rankings were proven to have been intentionally manipulated due to political pressures. The Senator authored bipartisan legislation to comprehensively reform the State Department’s annual TIP Report process, a proposal currently pending before the Senate.


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