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Corker Opening Statement at Hearing on "Review of the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report"

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Hearing: Review of the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman
Opening Statement
Today, we will examine the recently released 2016 State Department Trafficking in Persons Report.
The integrity of last year’s report was called into question because of controversy over how the Tier Rankings were made regarding certain countries.
This report and Tier Rankings are an improvement, and we thank you for your leadership in that regard and the way inter-departmentally people worked with each other. The decisions behind certain upgrades, such as Cyprus and the Philippines, and downgrades, such as Uzbekistan, Burma, and Luxembourg, are more balanced and strategic.
It would appear that the oversight and other actions by this committee last year and this year, including confirming Ambassador Coppedge, have had a positive effect.
Deputy Secretary Blinken made commitments to this committee that this year’s report would receive high-level engagement. That seems to have happened, but we would like to hear from Ambassador Coppedge more on that score, which we will today. 
In the past, back and forth deliberations between the TIP office and the regional bureaus have been the rule. While less pronounced this year, that pattern still shows in how certain countries, such as India, Mexico and Malaysia, are ranked.
Each year, the TIP report makes recommendations for progress and turns these into tailored actions for our embassies. Rigorously applied TIP action plans should inform the tough calls on the Tier Rankings.
We thank Ambassador Coppedge for testifying today so she can explain the 2016 Tier Rankings to the committee.
We encourage you to give a fair assessment of countries efforts to address trafficking this year, and we also hope you are candid with us in describing the challenges that still exist in certain countries.
This year’s report focuses especially on preventing modern slavery. This is important and needs to be part of substantially increasing international efforts to end modern slavery, which this committee unanimously supports and hopefully will come to fruition very quickly.
With that, I would like to recognize our distinguished ranking member, Senator Cardin, and say in passing off to him, I think we both were touched by being at the event at the State Department where heroes from around the world that have risked their lives and gone through incredible situations to ensure that other people are not trafficked or in slavery. I want to thank you for inviting me. I know Senator Cardin feels the same way. With that, I’ll turn it over to our distinguished ranking member.