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Sen. Menendez slams ‘politicization’ of human trafficking report

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Sen. Robert Menendez slammed the Obama administration Monday, suggesting it has “turned its back” on human trafficking victims.

“The administration had turned its back on the victims of human trafficking, turned a blind eye to the facts and ignored calls from Congress,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “They have elevated politics over the most basic principles of human rights.”

Menendez later said in a floor speech that the report “represents a bastardization of the trafficking in persons ranking process” and that it “compromises American values.”

{mosads}His comments come in the wake of the State Department releasing its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which upgraded Malaysia — currently part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks — from the Tier 3, the lowest level, to Tier 2.

Menendez pointed to the upgrade for Malaysia, as well as a separate boost for Cuba, as “a clear politicization of the report, and a stamp of approval for countries who have failed to take the basic actions to merit this upgrade.”

He also warned that he will use a range of legislative tools — from hearings and investigations to introducing legislation — to counter the upgrades.

“The United States’ commitment and credibility in fighting the scourge of modern day slavery is on the line,” Menendez added. “We need to make clear that the TIP report must not be subject to political manipulation.”

Menendez, a vocal critic of the administration’s foreign policy, isn’t alone in his concern. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is running for president, voiced doubt on the upgrade for Cuba, which comes as the administration is pushing to restore relations with the country.

“I find it difficult to believe that Cuba has been elevated this year from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List solely based on the Cuban regime’s record,” he said. 

– Updated at 5:19 p.m.

Tags Marco Rubio Robert Menendez

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