Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Menendez, Rubio Critical of ‘Political’ Human Trafficking Report

Menendez, Rubio Critical of 'Political' Human Trafficking Report
By Matthew Fleming
Posted at 3:20 p.m. on July 27, 2015

Two senators say politics are at play in the State
Department's announcement that the human trafficking situations
in Malaysia and Cuba are improving.

On Monday, the State Department released its annual Trafficking in
Persons Report, bumping both nations from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List,
allowing Malaysia to stay in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., pushed hard throughout the recent
fast-track trade debate to strengthen human rights requirements against
prospective trade partners, including Malaysia. Trade Promotion
Authority, also known as fast track, passed with a provision
denying expedited congressional consideration of any trade deal with a
country listed in Tier 3.

"The administration has turned its back on the victims of trafficking,
turned a blind eye to the facts, and ignored the calls from Congress,
leading human rights advocates, and Malaysian government officials to
preserve the integrity of this important report," Menendez said in a
statement, who noted his "profound disappointment" that the
administration "elevated politics over the most basic principles of
human rights."

The report states that while Malaysia "does not fully comply with the
minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking," it is "making
significant efforts to do so."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also took issue with the report. The
Cuban-American and 2016 presidential hopeful has been an outspoken
critic of the Castro regime and of President Barack Obama's thawing of
relations with the island.

"It is important that this report be a true reflection of the
trafficking situation on the ground and that a country's rating not be
determined by political considerations but by the country's record on
this issue," Rubio said in a statement. "I find it difficult to believe
that Cuba has been elevated this year from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List
solely based on the Cuban regime's record."

Menendez has also been critical of Obama's policies towards Cuba and
vowed to use all of the tools at his disposal to "challenge these upgrades."

"Upgrades for Malaysia and Cuba are a clear politicization of the
report, and a stamp of approval for countries who have failed to take
the basic actions to merit this upgrade," Menendez said. "As the State
Department's own report recognizes that there has been no progress on
forced labor in Cuba, any upgrade of the country's ranking challenges
common sense."

Source: Menendez, Rubio Critical of 'Political' Human Trafficking Report
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