This Thursday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez (D) teamed up to introduce new legislation aimed to address the concerns of human trafficking across the globe. There have been past disputes that the staff within the State Department has continuously overlooked the severity of human trafficking in different countries for political purposes.
The annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) has been scrutinized for giving undeserving favorable statuses to certain countries and down playing the extent of human trafficking in others. In August of last year, Reuters acknowledged this critical flaw by stating:
“In the weeks leading up to a critical annual U.S. report on human trafficking that publicly shames the world’s worst offenders, human rights experts at the State Department concluded that trafficking conditions hadn’t improved in Malaysia and Cuba. And in China, they found, things had grown worse.
The State Department’s senior political staff saw it differently — and they prevailed.
As a result, not only Malaysia, Cuba and China, but countries such as India, Uzbekistan and Mexico, wound up with better grades than the State Department’s human-rights experts wanted to give them, the sources said.”
The new bipartisan bill that has been proposed by the two U.S. Senators, seeks to hold the State Department’s senior political staff accountable for ensuring that countries get the grade they deserve for combating this epidemic. The bill is known as the Trafficking in Persons Report Integrity Act (TIPRIA), which will review the annual TIP report to confirm its ratings on human trafficking in countries as honorable and trustworthy.
Within the legislation, Rubio and Menendez propose that countries who have a government that sponsors forced labor and human trafficking automatically receive a Tier 3 ranking by the State Department. The bill also demands that countries must refrain from bias when prosecuting cases involving human trafficking. In addition to these requirements, the TIPRIA also gives more power to the U.S. President when it comes to trade with foreign nations under investigation for human trafficking. This is stated within the Press Release:
Current law directs the President to use the voice and vote of the United States to oppose any loan to a Tier 3 country by a multilateral development bank (MDB), but provides a frequently exercised waiver. The bill strengthens this provision by directing the President to use the voice and vote of the United States to oppose any loan to a Tier 2 Watch List or Tier 3 country, if that loan does not include a significant anti-trafficking component and removes the waiver.
Through the Trafficking in Persons Report Integrity Act, both Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez seek to improve the annual Trafficking in Person Report, as well as hold nations that deny basic human rights accountable.
You can read the full Press Release Here.