The Obama Administration's decision to grant China a political waiver in this year's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report was called a deep disappointment by the lawmaker who wrote the first-ever U.S. law to combat trafficking in 2000--the same law which also created the annual report and its ranking system (Public Law 106-386).
Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) as well as subsequent laws to make TVPA stronger, said he was "deeply disappointed" that China was given a political waiver despite its ongoing and expanding problem of human trafficking, particularly sex-trafficking of women and girls.
"The report is simply designed to speak truth to power," said Smith, who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees human rights and co-chairs the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus. "The accurate chronicling of human rights abuse--especially the exploitation of women--should never be politicized. Sadly, in the case of China, the Obama Administration has politicized human rights with the granting of a political waiver and a refusal to downgrade China from the Tier 2 Watch List.
"This political waiver for China is totally unacceptable," Smith said. "China is a magnet for trafficking as a result of its one child per couple population control policy and the resulting gender disparity."
In the most recent reauthorization of the TVPA, Congress decided that no country should be allowed to skirt sanctions on the Tier 2 Watch List for more than two years. This year, 2011, represents the first year that the limit was put to the test.
"The Administration saw the limit, knows the benefits for victims inherent in the limit and still chose to ignore it with its political waiver," Smith said. "Two years of warning is enough. The Obama Administration has again abandoned trafficking victims in China--who are predominantly women. It's shameful.
"Our obligation is to the victims of trafficking, not the dictatorship," Smith said.
Smith also expressed concern about the Administration's decision to upgrade India from the Tier 2 Watch List to a Tier 3 country.
"India was upgraded to a Tier 2 country in this report despite the fact that it has a large population of forced and bonded laborers and yet has prosecuted and convicted only a handful of traffickers," he said.