Leading members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee threatened on Thursday to subpoena all documents related to the State Department’s production of its annual human trafficking report amid accusations that the agency inflated assessments for several strategically important countries...
...Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), a former chairman of the committee, raised the prospect of an investigation by the State Department’s inspector general into the creation of this year’s TIP report.
“If there was an inspector general investigation, or some other investigation, would your answers hold up in emails, memos, letters and all other communications?” he asked before posing further questions to Sarah Sewall, the department’s under secretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights.
Menendez expressed particular concerns about the rating for Malaysia, which was upgraded from the worst ranking, Tier 3, to Tier 2 in this year’s report. He noted that the Malaysian government only recently strengthened its anti-trafficking laws in June, well after the conclusion of the department’s reporting period at the end of March.
While the TIP report mentioned that Malaysian authorities were implementing measures to curtail the sale of humans, it did not address the discovery in May of dozens of migrant graves near the country’s border with Thailand—likely holding trafficking victims from Bangladesh and Myanmar.
“You won’t reflect those things that are negative after the reporting period,” Menendez said.