Ivanka Trump will join Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday to unveil the State Department’s annual report on human trafficking, which is being released amid disputes over its listing of countries where child soldiers can be found.
The congressionally mandated report has been used as a diplomatic tool since its inception in 2000. Reuters reported Saturday that Tillerson had overruled recommendations from State Department officials and decided to leave Iraq and Myanmar off the child soldiers list. Reuters said the secretary of state also declined a proposal to add Afghanistan to the list.
A State Department official told POLITICO that there was “confusion and surprise” within the agency about Tillerson’s decision.
Ivanka Trump, who is serving as a White House adviser to her father, has touted the need to combat human trafficking. She will honor eight men and women from around the world who are seen as leaders in the effort to fight human trafficking.
Tillerson drew criticism in March when he chose not to play a role in the release of the department’s more prominent Human Rights Report. The release of that report is usually paired with a press event headlined by the secretary of state. Tillerson’s absence fueled concerns that the Trump administration was not interested in promoting human rights as actively as prior administrations.
Human rights activists worry that the Trump administration will undermine the integrity of the human trafficking report, which has come under scrutiny in the past, with critics alleging political influence on the report’s findings.
“One of the reasons why we are concerned with politicizing the report is that the tool is only as good as the facts that make it up, that the country ranking is factually based,” said David Abramowitz, managing director of Humanity United.
Abramowitz said how countries are ranked in the report will help shed light on how the Trump administration will tackle human rights issues, especially toward countries such as Russia and China.
Nahal Toosi contributed to this report.