Human Rights First welcomed the re-introduction of the Trafficking in Persons Report Integrity Act, which would strengthen the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report by increasing transparency in the process. The bill was introduced by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Cory Gardner (R-CO), and aims to clarify the evidence used in determining the ranking of individual countries on their efforts to combat human trafficking.
“The TIP Report is an important diplomatic tool that encourages countries to improve their efforts to combat trafficking through public accountability. However, when politics interfere and allow even one or two countries’ rankings to be inflated, the credibility of the entire report suffers,” said Human Rights First’s Annick Febrey. “This bill will improve objectivity in the ranking decisions, ensuring that countries substantially improve their efforts to end modern slavery and provide adequate services to survivors, if they expect to earn a higher ranking.”
The annual TIP Report monitors and reports on the progress of governments around the world to combat human trafficking, issuing a ranking of Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, or Tier 3 for each country. The Trafficking in Persons Report Integrity Act would add more clarity around what constitutes credible evidence in determining a country’s ranking by specifying that the determination must be made based on concrete progress during the reporting period, rather than the promise of future action. Also, the bill would require any country whose government sponsors forced labor to be ranked Tier 3, the lowest ranking, which could involve possible sanctions.
Human Rights First notes that passing this bill will ensure that political considerations—such as those that led to Malaysia receiving a higher ranking during Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in 2015—have no place in determining a country’s efforts to combat trafficking in persons. It will also hold Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3 ranked countries accountable for their human trafficking risk assessment when seeking loans by multilateral development banks.
“We applaud the bill for requiring countries to clearly demonstrate their progress in combatting trafficking before assigning them an upgraded ranking,” added Febrey.
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