US lashes China, Russia for sex trade
20 June 2013, 08:04
Washington - The United States on Wednesday downgraded China, Russia
and Uzbekistan to the bottom of a US table for failing to make greater
efforts to combat human trafficking, a move that may spark sanctions.
sharp blow came in the State Department's annual report on human
trafficking after the three nations languished for years on a US watch
list, having been granted past waivers amid promises to do better.
other countries, however - Azerbaijan, the Congo and Iraq - were
elevated off the watch list to Tier 2 status as a reward for what US
officials called "real movement" in the fight against trafficking and
The US estimates that about 27 million remain enslaved around the world.
get so focused on the politics behind this that they forget that every
one of these is a person," Luis CdeBaca, director of the office to
monitor and combat trafficking in persons, told AFP.
terms of a 2008 law, the six countries could no longer stay on the Tier 2
Watch List and either had to move up to Tier 2 or be downgraded to Tier
3 - a move that could trigger cuts in non-humanitarian and non-trade US
"We have a moral obligation to meet this challenge head-on.
Human trafficking is an assault on our most dearly held values of
freedom and basic human dignity," US Secretary of State John Kerry said
in the report's foreword.
But he stressed that "governments bear primary responsibility for responding to this crime."
2013 report found that "trafficking is pronounced among China's
internal migrant population" and "forced labor remains a problem,
including in brick kilns, coal mines and factories."
one-child policy has resulted in "a skewed sex ratio of 118 boys to 100
girls in China, which served as a key source of demand for the
trafficking of foreign women as brides for Chinese men and for forced
Beijing had failed to "demonstrate significant
efforts to comprehensively prohibit and punish all forms of
trafficking," the report maintained.
Representative Chris Smith,
who has authored key legislation on trafficking, said China has become
the "sex and labor trafficking capital of the world."
young girls have been - and are today being - reduced to commodities and
coerced into prostitution," he added in a statement.
had reduced the number of children under 15 forced to pick the key
annual cotton crop, but "continued to subject older children and adult
laborers to forced labor in that harvest," the report found.
Russia, a million people "are exposed to 'exploitative' labor conditions
characteristic of trafficking cases, such as withholding of documents,
nonpayment for services, physical abuse, or extremely poor living
President Barack Obama will determine whether to enact any sanctions against the three nations in September.
a move will also act as a warning to other nations on the watch list to
improve their efforts or face relegation next year. Afghanistan,
Barbados, Chad, Malaysia, the Maldives and Thailand will all no longer
be eligible for a waiver and face either relegation or promotion.
is also likely to surprise rights organizations who had feared that
geopolitical considerations could halt any downgrade of key US allies.
is not grounds for an upgrade that a country is important, or that a
country is a close ally. To get an upgrade they have to show results,"
"By its very name, Tier 2 Watch List is saying
watch out, you're about to fall down to Tier 3. Some governments take
that to heart and start working on it."
Out of the 188 countries
in the report, the State Department downgraded 18 others, placing them
among a staggering 44 nations on the watch list. And only Madagascar
moved up from Tier 3.
"It's a tough report, but fair and the
conclusions that it draws are on behalf of those millions of voiceless
victims who don't know if any of us know about them," CdeBaca said.
though more nations fell in the rankings than rose this year, CdeBaca
pointed to progress, such as "a 20 percent increase in convictions
worldwide," while 10 percent more trafficking victims were successfully
In a plus, Armenia moved up to Tier 1 in a move indicating that "political will makes a difference," CdeBaca said.
Croatia, Lithuania, Mauritius and Georgia all lost top status to slide
down to the second tier, examples of countries who get complacent and
"just rest on their laurels," he added.
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