House Foreign Affairs Committee Urged to Uphold Integrity of Trafficking In Persons Report Rankings

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today welcomed the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “Accountability and Transformation: Tier Rankings in the Fight Against Human Trafficking,” noting that politicization of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report would undermine its credibility and drive inaction by foreign governments. Witnesses for today’s hearing, organized by the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Subcommittee, include Mark Lagon who is the president of Freedom House, former ambassador-at-large for trafficking in persons, and Human Rights First Bankrupt Slavery Campaign ambassador. The committee will also hear testimony from Fortify Rights Executive Director Matt Smith and PREDA Foundation President Father Shay Cullen.

“As the preeminent gauge of the international effort to combat human trafficking, the tier rankings listed in the TIP report have a significant impact on the response of foreign governments to the problem of modern slavery,” said Human Rights First’s Annick Febrey. “In order to maintain the credibility and usefulness of the TIP report, it is crucial that the determination of tier rankings remain a process that is not influenced by political leanings or diplomatic relationships.”

“Countries failing to address the scourge of modern slavery should not receive a pass simply because they are ‘strategically important,'” said Lagon during his testimony. “The strength of the TIP Report lies in its ability to provide an accurate reflection of governments’ efforts and in so doing hold them accountable, and we should not decrease its effectiveness by subjecting scores to the cynical politics of convenience.”

The TIP Report, which is issued annually by the U.S. State Department, monitors and reports on the progress of governments around the world to combat human trafficking. Along with detailed reporting, each government is ranked as Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 based on how much progress it has made in anti-trafficking efforts. The upgrading or downgrading of a country’s tier ranking often drives governments to take action.

The hearing precedes next week’s continuation of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a controversial proposed trade agreement between the United States and eleven countries. The exploratory stages of the TPP have brought together a diverse group of participants as advisors. Omitted from the group was the presence of experts on combating human trafficking, which could have provided insight into the failings of governments to effectively counter modern day slavery. Malaysia, one of the potential partner nations in the TPP, was last ranked in Tier 3 of the TIP Report, its lowest possible ranking.

“Trade relations and strategic partnerships remain powerful tools to influence positive reform and change on anti-trafficking initiatives,” added Febrey. “The United States should take full advantage of these opportunities to engage and encourage progress in the fight against modern slavery.”

For more information or to speak with Febrey, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at [email protected] or 212-845-5269.

Press

Published on April 22, 2015

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