WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, issued the following statement Thursday after the State Department released their 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report:
“The annual Trafficking in Persons Report is an essential accountability tool which assesses governments’ progress on anti-trafficking efforts globally and is critical to ensuring continued progress against the scourge of human trafficking. Human trafficking is one of the great moral challenges of our time, damaging people’s lives and corroding communities while also distorting labor markets and undermining stability and the rule of law. This unconscionable practice is fueled by greed, violence, and corruption and the TIP report must continue to be improved and developed in order to shine a harsh light on the worst actors around the world and hold people accountable for this modern form of slavery.
“This year’s report shows that the global community is making inroads, but has a long way to go.
“A few examples stand out to me. Uzbekistan was appropriately downgraded to Tier 3 in my estimation. The government does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and continues to compel forced labor of adults in the cotton harvest. Burma was also downgraded to Tier 3, because military and civilian officials continue to force men, women, and children, into slavery and army recruiters and civilian brokers continue to recruit children into the Burmese armed forces.
“At the same time, the government of Thailand, which was upgraded to Tier 2 Watch List, appears to be making some serious efforts to hold government officials complicit in trafficking crimes, although much more needs to be done. And I welcome reports that Namibia, a country I visited earlier this year and where I raised trafficking issues, has taken steps to address the trafficking problems in that country, including appointing a government official to lead its anti-trafficking efforts, and look forward to its finalizing and enacting comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation later this year.
“Finally, I remain concerned about Malaysia, which initiated even fewer trafficking investigations and prosecutions compared to last year and made only a miniscule increase in convictions even after the discovery of mass graves of trafficking victims on the Thai border. Malaysia has also still failed to prosecute any officials for complicity in trafficking crimes.”