US says human trafficking spreading
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration nearly doubled the number of countries that may face US sanctions for not doing enough to combat human trafficking yesterday, calling on those and other nations to take tough steps to eradicate the lucrative illicit practice.
In its annual Trafficking in Persons report, the State Department identified 23 nations as failing to meet minimum international standards to curb trafficking, which claims mainly women and children as victims. That is up from 13 nations in 2010. Another 41 countries were placed on a watch list that could lead to sanctions unless their records improve.
The report analyzed conditions in 184 nations, including the United States, and ranked them in terms of their effectiveness in fighting what many have termed modern-day slavery. The State Department estimates that as many as 27 million men, women, and children are living in such bondage around the world.
“All countries can and must do more,’’ Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in presenting the report. “More human beings are being exploited today than ever before.’’
“We’re at a critical moment in this fight,’’ she said. “The problem of modern trafficking may be entrenched, and it may seem like there is no end in sight. But if we act on the laws that have been passed and the commitments that have been made, it is solvable. If we increase the pressure on traffickers and the networks they thrive in, we can set ourselves on a course to one day eradicate modern slavery.’’
Countries on the blacklist include perennials such as Cuba, Iran, Burma, North Korea, and Sudan, along with frequent US foes Eritrea, Libya, and Zimbabwe. Others are allies in the Middle East such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and Papua New Guinea was cited as a repeat offender. Only one country, the Dominican Republic, was taken off the list.
New to the blacklist are Algeria, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Micronesia, Turkmenistan, Venezuela, and Yemen.
The report also cited six nations — Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen — for using child soldiers and not taking steps to end the practice.