Saturday, August 04, 2007

2007 U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report

Since 2001 the U.S. State Department has released an annual report on trafficking in persons to define, document, and raise awareness of the phenomenon and rate countries across the world on their anti-trafficking efforts. The 2007 report was released this past June.

Trafficking in persons is a modern-day form of slavery, a new type of global slave trade. Perpetrators prey on the most weak among us, primarily women and children, for profit and gain. They lure victims into involuntary servitude and sexual slavery. Today we are again called by conscience to end the debasement of our fellow men and women. As in the 19th century, committed abolitionists around the world have come together in a global movement to confront this repulsive crime. President George W. Bush has committed the United States Government to lead in combating this serious 21st century challenge, and all nations that are resolved to end human trafficking have a strong partner in the United States.

- Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State

At the heart of U.S. efforts to end human trafficking is a commitment to human dignity. Every day, all over the world, people are coerced into bonded labor, bought and sold in prostitution, exploited in domestic servitude, enslaved in agricultural work and in factories, and captured to serve unlawfully as child soldiers. Estimates of the number vary widely. According to U.S. Government estimates, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year and about 80 percent of them are female. Up to half are minors.

-Ambassador Mark P. Lagon, Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons

In this year’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report), the U.S. State Department has added seven nations to its list of most severe offenders which have failed to adequately combat human trafficking and involuntary servitude. Countries which are placed on the worst offender list are subject to immediate consequences from the United States, which may include the “prohibition of grants or sale of security items”. The list now includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and Malaysia.

Some critics are saying that this year's TIP Report was too lenient on the world's two most populated countries: India and China. The two countries were placed on the intermediate list, which rather than imposing immediate sanctions, allows several months for the country to make changes to its human trafficking policies.

- The Women's Human Rights Program

The report does not exempt the United States from a cataloging of its own trafficking problem, including women and girls who migrate to America and become prostitutes. An unknown number of U.S. citizens and legal residents are also trafficked within the United States, primarily for sexual servitude and forced labor, the report says.

While the United States is not assigned a tier rating, Lagon said America stands “ready to be judged” on the problem. He stressed that the United States should be seen as an ally against trafficking.

U.S. efforts to raise awareness of trafficking in persons are paying off, and now millions more people know about the global problem, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In introducing the State Department’s seventh annual Trafficking in Persons Report on June 12, Rice said human trafficking until recently was “akin to a global family secret. It was known but not often discussed publicly.”

Rice said that in her travels around the world, she has noticed “a greater desire by our partners to fight this crime and protect its victims.” The United States, she said, is helping to lead a global movement “not just to confront this crime, but to abolish it. More and more countries are coming to see human trafficking for what it is -- a modern-day form of slavery that devastates families and communities around the world.”

- U.S. State Department

More info on the 2007 U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report

Download the report

Criticisms of the TIP Report

Experts Warn of 'Creeping Complacency' in Response to Human Trafficking
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, said the report is meant to be a tool to assess what countries are doing to address the issue.

"What jumps off the pages of this report is that there is a growing tendency – a creeping complacency – to park offending countries in the Watch List," he said in a statement, "rather than identify them as egregious offenders in need of immediate and massive reforms."

Read full article

India has a thriving bonded labor industry which exploits both children & adults (Source: Corbis)

Venezuela Denounces U.S. Report on Human Trafficking
The [Trafficking in Persons] report was also criticized by other nations, including the Philippines and Bahrain, and rights groups have accused the State Department reports of being politically motivated. It has been pointed out that, as Reuters reported yesterday, "friendly countries with major trafficking problems such as India were not placed in the worst category, where U.S. antagonists like Syria, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela routinely appear."

Read full article

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