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Report Lists Worst Countries for Human Trafficking Abuses 

Wall Street Journal

Updated

Twenty countries received the worst possible ranking on the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report released Wednesday by the U.S. State Department, meaning the department doesn’t think their governments are in full compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to get in compliance.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during an event releasing the annual Trafficking in Persons Report at the State Department on Wednesday, June 19, 2013.

China, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Algeria, Central African Republic, Libya, Uzbekistan, Syria and Sudan are among the nations given the lowest Tier 3 ranking, the report said. Trafficking victims are forced to work as sex slaves, or lured to countries with the promise of legitimate jobs only to be forced into situations where they are forced to work long hours in factories, processing plants, on farms or fishing vessels for low or no pay and made to live in poor conditions where they are subject to beatings and rapes if they speak out against their conditions or try to escape. In some cases, children are forced to become soldiers.

Countries listed as Tier 3 are subject to certain sanctions, including the withdrawing or withholding of nonhumanitarian, non-trade-related aid.

China responded to the report on Thursday, with a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry saying the U.S. needs to take an “objective and impartial view of China’s efforts and stop making unilateral and arbitrary judgments.”

In a daily press briefing on Thursday, China Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the U.S. “should take an objective and impartial view of China’s efforts and stop making unilateral and arbitrary judgments.”

“The Chinese government attaches great importance to fighting all trafficking crimes and protecting the rights of victims. We have been constantly improving our domestic legislation, strengthening our law enforcement and judicial measures and cooperating with all countries, including our neighbor countries,” spokeswoman Chunying Hua said.

Countries listed on the Tier 2 Watch List are those that don’t fully comply with the Act’s minimum standards but are working to come into compliance but still retain significant numbers of trafficking victims or other significant issues. Watch list countries include Chad, Cambodia, Rwanda, Lebanon, Albania, Honduras, Bahrain, Belarus and Thailand, which is on the watch list for the fourth consecutive year.

Tier 2 countries are those that don’t meet full compliance under the act but are taking important steps to become compliant. Japan, Jamaica, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Iraq, Hong Kong, Romania, Singapore, Nigeria, Bahamas, Turkey and Egypt are among the countries receiving this designation.

“Ending modern slavery must remain a foreign policy priority. Fighting this crime wherever it exists is in our national interest,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in the report’s introduction. “Human trafficking undermines the rule of law and creates instability. It tears apart families and communities. It damages the environment and corrupts the global supply chains and labor markets that keep the world’s economies thriving.”

Thailand recently has been in the news following the release of reports detailing alleged human rights and trafficking abuses in its seafood processing and fisheries industries. The Environmental Justice Foundation, which released the report on Thailand’s fisheries industry, said the report shows urgent action is needed from the Thai government and from the seafood supply chain to eliminate these abuses.

“The fish caught by these vessels, crewed by trafficked workers, is used to supply fish to the shrimp industry and provide for fish markets in Europe and the United States,” Steve Trent, the foundation’s executive director, said in a statement. “Thailand needs to address this issue head on, by rooting out corruption, prosecuting offending boat owners and companies, and ensuring a rigorous inspection regime. Meanwhile seafood businesses need to urgently investigate their supply chains to ensure that no products linked to human trafficking are present.”

Write to Ben DiPietro at ben.dipietro@dowjones.com, and follow him on Twitter@BenDiPietro1.

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