12 Nations Cited for Human Trafficking

The U.S. State Department’s 2006 annual Trafficking in Persons Report estimates that 800,000 people, most of them women and children, are victims of human trafficking. This year’s report looks at slave labor as well as sex trafficking, noting that a child trafficked into one form of labor may be further abused in another. “The brutal reality of the modern-day slave trade is that its victims are frequently bought and sold many times over,” it says.

In releasing the report, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “We reaffirm America’s unwavering commitment to eradicating this modern day form of slavery. Defeating human trafficking is the great moral calling of our time.”

This year’s congressionally-mandated report looks at 149 countries; others were omitted because not enough information was available. To produce it, the State Department examined concrete government actions, rather than statements and plans, and divided nations into three tiers. Tier 1 countries have governments that comply fully with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Tier 2 countries do not comply fully with the Act, but are making an effort to do so. A Tier 2 Watch List includes weak Tier 2 countries that are in danger of falling to Tier 3 – countries that are failing to make significant efforts to stop human trafficking.

The new report places 12 worst offender nations in Tier 3: Belize, Burma, Cuba, Iran, Laos, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

The State Department dropped Indonesia, Malaysia and South Africa from Tier 2 to the Tier 2 Watch List this year. The Watch List includes 32 nations in all, including Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Kuwait, Mexico and Russia.

In releasing the report, Ambassador-at-Large for International Slavery John R. Miller noted some progress. He said it is a “good sign” that, while several years ago there were just hundreds of convictions of traffickers around the world, last year there were 3,000 and this year there were 4,700 trafficking convictions. He added that 41 governments passed legislation addressing trafficking in persons in the last year.

“We in America recognize that we, too, are a destination for the victims of human traffickers,” Secretary Rice admitted. “We are taking measures to hasten the coming of the day when no man, woman or child is denied their rights and their common humanity on American soil.” This is the first year the report alleges that American taxpayers financed abuses. Miller charged the Defense Department with moving too slowly to stop U.S. contractors and subcontractors working in Iraq from mistreating foreign laborers.

While the State Department placed Germany in the “Tier 1” group, Ambassador Miller expressed concern about trafficking in prostitutes for the World Cup games this month. “There are reports of thousands of women being transported to Germany for sex during the World Cup,” he said.

The report outlines best practices in stopping trafficking around the world, and identifies four heroes acting to end modern-day slavery.

The full report is available online at http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/

[Browse more features]