US Puts Burma on Notice for Trafficking

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MONDAY, 14 JUNE 2010

WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday warned more than a dozen states, including Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Burma, of possible sanctions for failing to do enough to fight human trafficking.

The State Department’s 10th annual review of global efforts to eliminate the trade in human beings and sexual slavery put 13 countries on notice that they are not complying with minimum international standards and could face US penalties.

Other nations receiving a failing grade were Congo, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Kuwait, Mauritania, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Another 58 countries were placed on a “watch list” that could lead to sanctions unless their records improve.

For the first time, the United States was included in the department’s “Trafficking in Persons Report” and was given high marks. The report said that while trafficking is a problem here, the US is complying with all minimum standards. It placed the US along with 27 other mainly European countries in the top “Tier 1” category for compliance.

“We believe it is important to keep the spotlight on ourselves,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in presenting the report. “Human trafficking is not someone else’s problem. Involuntary servitude is not something we can ignore or hope doesn’t exist in our own communities.”

The report, which looked at 177 countries, demoted Switzerland from the top tier because it said Swiss law does not bar prostitution by 16- and 17-year-olds in all cases. As a result, it said Switzerland risks becoming a child sex tourism destination. Switzerland was ranked in “Tier 2,” a category that does not carry the threat of sanctions.

Meanwhile Obama administration is praising Malaysia and Taiwan for improving efforts to stop the sexual and forced labor exploitation of women and children.

The State Department said in its annual report on human trafficking that Malaysia has been upgraded from the US list of countries with the worst trafficking records to a watch list.

US ambassador for human trafficking issues Luis CdeBaca says Taiwan has been moved to the list of countries that fully comply with minimum standards to protect victims.

CdeBaca says Taiwan is now allowing victims to work while their cases are being investigated instead of detaining them.

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