A new bill filed by Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Bob Menendez seeks to depoliticize how the State Department reports on human trafficking, while increasing congressional oversight on the enforcement of penalties.
The Trafficking in Persons Report Integrity Act (TIPRIA) is intended to reform the annual Trafficking in Persons Report from State.
Reuters broke the story that political appointees of the State Department squashed the truth about human trafficking in Malaysia, Cuba, and China.
The Rubio/Menendez bill would make the report more meaningful and actionable, with the United States Congress ensuring that American concerns about human trafficking aren’t subverted in the name of realpolitik.
Among its components: any country that has “forced labor” would be on Tier 3 of the report; State would have to explain the actions (or lack thereof) that contributed to the country’s ranking; tighter controls on presidential “waivers” that allow countries that would otherwise be in the third tier to be in the second.
Tier 3 countries are not allowed aid, beyond humanitarian and trade assistance. This legislation would compel presidents to report to Congress before relaxing restrictions.
Countries in both Tier 2 and Tier 3 could be barred from loans from multi-lateral development banks, unless those loans are yoked to anti-human trafficking conditions.
“In recent years, we’ve seen political agendas at the State Department interfere with America’s efforts to shine a light on human trafficking around the world,” said Rubio. “The Trafficking in Persons Report should be above politics and should reflect the full extent to which modern slavery exists and what governments are doing – or failing to do – about it. Passing this bill will bring greater transparency to this process of preparing the report and in doing so, it will help us hold human traffickers around the world accountable.”