State Department’s human trafficking report tilted

Despite conclusions drawn by a State Department division tasked with monitoring human trafficking which revealed little or no improvement in strategically important countries, political considerations among senior State Department officials led to the obscuring of the behavior of 17 nations in the publication of its annual Human Trafficking report.

According to a special report by Reuters, the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, J/TIP (Trafficking in Persons), reasoned that in Cuba, Malaysia and China, among the worst offenders, human trafficking conditions had not improved and in the instance of China, it worsened.  Despite the grim deductions, grades for each country and for India, Uzbekistan and Mexico additionally, improved on the State Department’s grade table despite no actual improvement.

J/TIP carefully examines several key patterns in determining upgrades from a 3-tiered table, of which Tier 3 is the worst offender.  Among the criteria considered: Sex trafficking, child-sex trafficking, forced labor, bonded labor or debt bondage, involuntary domestic servitude, forced child labor and unlawful recruitment or use of child soldiers.

The State Department denied political considerations:

“As is always the case, final decisions are reached only after rigorous analysis and discussion between the TIP office, relevant regional bureaus and senior State Department leaders,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in response to queries by Reuters.   

The belief among State Department human rights examiners is the annual report will disgrace a targeted country and their public shame will motivate them to alter their behavior and re-form.

“Tier 1” reflects a nation meets minimum human trafficking standards; “Tier 2” suggests a nation is making progress; “Tier 2 Watch List” requires special examination; and “Tier 3” status is the worst offender.  Remaining on “Tier 2” for a four-year period yields an automatic downgrade.

Upon the release of the report on July 27th, both Cuba and Malaysia were upgraded to “Tier 2,” despite research revealing no improvement had been achieved in violations of human trafficking.  Cuba and the United States recently renewed diplomatic relations and Malaysia is a key player in ongoing trade pacts in the Pacific Rim.

China’s suggested downgrading to “Tier 3” from “Tier 2 Watch List” was overruled despite evidence China had taken no action to eliminate human trafficking violations and, according to State’s investigation, conditions grew worse.

Despite the antagonistic portrait of the usual offenders, Secretary of State John Kerry said:  (The report) “aims to enlighten, energize and empower activists fighting the ‘human trafficking industry’ across every continent.”

Not really, Mr. Secretary.

Despite being trumpeted as the most reliable barometer to measure conditions for those enslaved in foreign countries, this investigation reveals only the continued mockery, abuse and disingenuous advocacy of human trafficking.  By sweeping away the better judgement of State Department human rights experts for political ends, this examination did nothing to the exception of burying pitiless truths to allow foreign policy to thrust forward without the pesky interference from a human rights report.

Disregarding glaring violations will only allow the worst violators to continue their nefarious treatment of their citizens without remorse, sympathy or compassion.

[Reuters] [CNN]