Human trafficking a ‘serious problem’ in US: State Department report News
Human trafficking a ‘serious problem’ in US: State Department report
Photo source or description

[JURIST] The US State Department (DOS) [official website] on Monday released its annual report [text, PDF] on human trafficking conditions across the globe, finding that the US adequately complies with international regulations but still has a "'serious problem with human trafficking, both for labor and commercial sexual exploitation." The report also listed 13 countries with the worst records on human trafficking issues. The countries cited for not complying with the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) [22 USC § 78 text] are not considered to be taking "significant actions" to comply with the TVPA and include Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Mauritania, North Korea, Kuwait, Iran, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Haiti was listed as a "special case" for having made limited progress before the January 2010 earthquake [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], which significantly impeded its efforts. Somalia was listed as a "special case" for not having an adequately functioning government to address human trafficking issues. The report also listed 59 countries on a "watch list" that are not fully complying with TVPA's minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance, even though there has been an increase in the total incidence of trafficking, and there has been a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking over the previous year. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [official website] announced the publication of the report and indicated that human trafficking is a shared responsibility [remarks]:

Human trafficking crosses cultures and continents. … All of us have a responsibility to bring this practice to an end. Survivors must be supported and their families aided and comforted, but we cannot turn our responsibility for doing that over to nongovernmental organizations or the faith community. Traffickers must be brought to justice. And we can't just blame international organized crime and rely on law enforcement to pursue them. It is everyone's responsibility.

Clinton noted the specificity of the report in addressing the prevention, protection and prosecutions associated with each country and she indicated that countries not meeting expectations must show true action in the future.

This is the tenth annual report on human trafficking by the DOS, following reports in 2009 [JURIST report], 2008 [materials], 2007 and 2006 [JURIST reports]. In January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled that sex trafficking violates conventions [JURIST report] against slavery and forced labor. Last October, the US and the EU announced an international criminal treaty [JURIST report] that will greatly increase cooperation between the two governments in fighting the trafficking of humans and the sale of illegal drugs. In March 2009, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea [JURIST news archive] Vitit Muntarbhorn cited the country [JURIST report] for various human rights violations including human trafficking. In July 2008, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report [HRW materials; JURIST report] calling on the Saudi government to institute new laws to protect its domestic workers from becoming victims of trafficking.