NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement in reaction to the release today of the State Department’s 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP):

“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the State Department has failed to use this year’s Trafficking in Persons Report to restore credibility to what should be a strong, clear statement of our national values. The rankings given to Malaysia, Cuba and other countries do not match the facts on the ground. To be sure, they do not match with the report’s own accounts of what is going on in those countries.

“Malaysia’s unjustified upgrade last year appears to have caused the State Department to irreversibly lower the bar for a country to be removed from Tier 3. I believe that rankings must be based on an objective assessment of the minimum standards in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a country’s efforts to meet them, and the impact that government actions are having on improving the lives of trafficking victims. No other considerations should enter into it.

“I expect Congress to be aggressive in its oversight and thoroughly investigate the methodology used to justify this year’s rankings. Further, I am convinced that new legislation to reform the ranking process is the only way to restore credibility to this broken system and I plan on introducing a bill to do just that. I hope my colleagues on both the Senate Foreign Relations and the House Foreign Affairs Committees will work with me to expeditiously address the flaws exposed by this year’s report. The lives of millions of trafficking victims depend on it.”

Senator Menendez has led the fight in Congress to avoid trade with human traffickers and the politicization of the Trafficking in Persons report, authoring an amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that for the first time prohibits expedited “fast track” congressional consideration for any trade deal including a country ranked Tier 3. Malaysia is among 12 countries entering the final round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. The Menendez amendment passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Obama on June 29, 2015.

Additional background on Menendez’s efforts regarding politicization of the 2015 TIP report: