Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding today’s release of the U.S. State Department’s 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report:
“Human trafficking is a major human rights problem around the world. The United States has a moral responsibility to advocate for victims, highlight the world’s worst violators, encourage reform and commend those who are on the right path to combating this modern day slavery.
“The 2013 Trafficking In Persons Report rightly imposes the automatic downgrade to three nations for their atrocious records on human trafficking, and sanctions should soon follow. These nations – China, Russia and Uzbekistan – need to know that there are severe consequences for not doing enough to combat human trafficking and that a lenient attitude towards tougher enforcement is a recipe for even greater human tragedy. I urge Secretary Kerry to ensure that the U.S. government not allow politics to get in the way of doing what is right.
“Another major problem that I’ve recently highlighted to the State Department is human trafficking committed by foreign diplomats. Naming and shaming these violators is critical, as the participation of high ranking government officials in such cruel and inhumane behavior must not go unpunished. Turning a blind eye sends the wrong message to those countries and the world. Trafficking victims and those at risk of being trafficked in the future deserve better.
“I am pleased to announce that a case involving the Tanzanian government, which I highlighted to Secretary Kerry last month, was resolved just yesterday. The U.S. must continue to put pressure on diplomats and their governments to ensure that these trafficking crimes do not go unpunished. The State Department needs to seek waivers of diplomatic immunity for offending officials and suspend A-3/G-5 visa programs from countries who use these visas to commit trafficking crimes.
“While today’s report highlights human trafficking problems around the world, we must take to heart the recommendations to improve our own efforts to combat this form of modern day slavery right here in the U.S. This year’s reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was a major step forward towards eradicating this evil practice in the U.S., and we must ensure this law is properly implemented and that law enforcement agencies have all the tools they need. We also cannot ignore the human trafficking tragedy that takes place along our Southern Border, which is why fixing our immigration system and implementing stronger border security measures are key to combating the human trafficking operations that have led to so much death and suffering.”
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND ON THE TANZANIAN DIPLOMAT CASE
The Tanzanian government has made an ex gratia payment to settle a case against one of that country’s diplomats. The Tanzanian diplomat trafficked a woman to the U.S. and held her in his home as a domestic servant for four years. She was forced to cook, clean, do gardening, and prepare food for the diplomat’s catering business, which he operated out of his home. The diplomat paid nothing in return for all this work, while subjecting the victim to threats, isolation and physical harm. In 2008, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia awarded the victim $1 million in damages under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The Tanzanian government has at last settled the case with a full payment of the victim’s back wages.