Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gulf states condemn US human trafficking report

From AFP:

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) - The Arab countries of the Gulf have dismissed as unjustified and political a recent US report which accused the rich countries of not combating human trafficking.

Foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who met in Saudi Arabia on Monday, said the GCC "deeply regrets the wrong information on the GCC states contained in a US State Department report for 2008 on human trafficking," SPA state news agency reported on Tuesday.

"(This information) aims to practise unjustified pressure for political ends," said a statement issued by the ministers of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, without elaborating.

They called on the US State Department to "revise its unfriendly policy towards GCC countries," SPA added.

In a report issued last week, the US State Department kept Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia on a black list of countries it says traffic in people, while it applauded progress made by Bahrain and the UAE.

It said the four oil-rich countries admit men and women from Asian countries- such as Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Indonesia - and African countries like Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia to work as domestic servants or other low-skilled labourers.

Many subsequently "face conditions of involuntary servitude," the report said adding that, to a lesser extent, they are forced into prostitution.

"For the last four years, the weak performance of several nations in the Persian Gulf has been the matter of great concern and disappointment," said Mark Logan, US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice's senior advisor on the human trafficking problem.

"As an update, I am happy to report that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain continued to make significant improvements, notably the United Arab Emirates," Logan told reporters. "It is a model in the region."

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