Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement regarding the release of the U.S. State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report:
“Human trafficking remains one of the most urgent human rights issues of our time. Traffickers prey on the most vulnerable among us. This crime knows no boundaries—it occurs in almost every corner of the globe, as well as in our own backyard, including in my home state of Florida.
“As chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), I strongly commend the Trump Administration for downgrading China to Tier 3 in the State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report.
“Earlier this month, I joined CECC co-chair Congressman Chris Smith in sending a letter to Secretary of State Tillerson outlining the Commission’s own reporting on China’s human trafficking conditions, including labor trafficking of North Koreans that financially benefits Kim Jong-Un’s murderous regime, the Chinese government’s use of forced labor, and sex trafficking of women and girls. I’m glad to see the U.S. Department of State officially determine that Beijing does not meet the minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking nor significantly trying to do so.
“I also commend the administration for downgrading Nicaragua to the Tier 2 Watch List. The government there must increase its efforts to eliminate forced labor and sex trafficking of all people, especially children, as well as the practice forcing people with disabilities to beg.
“I look forward to further examining the report and understanding the rationale for upgrading certain countries of concern. Human trafficking has rightly been called modern day slavery, and we must recommit to confronting this evil in its many forms and holding accountable foreign governments that fail to protect innocents, prosecute perpetrators and prioritize legal reforms.”
Earlier this year, Rubio and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) reintroduced bipartisan legislation designed to reform the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report and ensure that the Report remains the gold standard, accurately reflecting the full extent to which modern day slavery exists and what governments are doing—or failing to do—about it. The legislation is intended to strengthen and bring greater transparency to the process of preparing the report.