Questionable Upgrades in 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report Undermine Annual Assessment of Global Anti-Slavery Enforcement
WASHINGTON – At a nomination hearing today, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sought a commitment from Susan Coppedge, the president’s nominee for Ambassador-at-Large and director of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP), to work closely with Congress on elevating human trafficking as a priority for the U.S. government and to ensure the integrity of the annual Trafficking In Persons Report. Questionable upgrades for several countries, including Malaysia, Cuba and India, in this year’s report have undermined the world’s most comprehensive assessment of how countries are enforcing laws against modern forms of slavery.
Corker asked, “Will you commit to working closely with us and making us aware if at any time you feel other forces are at work which are keeping your voice from being heard?”
“Senator Corker, I look forward to working with this committee because there are so many members on it who are passionate and dedicated to the fight against trafficking,” Coppedge replied.
Corker also expressed strong support for Coppedge’s nomination, noting her past work prosecuting trafficking cases.
“To have someone who has met individuals, has defended individuals, and has caused justice to come about for individuals assume this important role certainly is something that is good for our country and great for those who today do not have access to justice,” added Corker.
While continuing to seek documentation from the State Department regarding the upgrades in the 2015 report, Senator Corker is calling for greater transparency surrounding the TIP rankings process to prevent future politicization of the report.
Earlier today in Washington, he met with representatives of International Justice Mission, a leading advocacy organization in the anti-slavery movement, to thank them for building support for his legislation to end modern slavery worldwide.
Senator Corker has long been a supporter of efforts to fight slavery and human trafficking. In addition to supporting Senator John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) bill to address human trafficking within the U.S., Corker authored the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 (S.553), which would create a powerful effort in concert with the private sector and foreign governments to help eliminate modern slavery around the world. Funding for the bold, bipartisan initiative was included in the Senate Fiscal Year 2016 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill. Coppedge has previously expressed support for Corker’s proposal.