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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2422

Combating human trafficking is critical: Clinton

Wajid Ali Syed Reporting from Washington

Washington, 17 June, (Asiantribune.com): US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the fight against human trafficking, abroad and in the United States, is a critical part of the Obama administration's agenda. She spoke on the release of a State Department report that listed 17 countries as failing to make significant efforts to address the problem. To underscore the priority the administration puts on the issue, Clinton made the release of the report a major event that included bipartisan Congressional leaders and activists from Albania and Costa Rica who were among nine people from around the world saluted in the report as anti-trafficking heroes.Clinton called the trafficking of persons for forced labor, sexual exploitation and other illicit purposes "modern-day

[caption id="attachment_596" align="alignright" width="237" caption="Hillary Clinton "]Hillary Clinton [/caption]

slavery" that spans the globe and affects every country including the United States.

She said the annual reports, mandated by an act of Congress in 2000, are intended to encourage nations to act where necessary with criticism and the threat of possible US sanctions.

The report based on information from US embassies, international organizations and non-governmental groups assessed 175 countries and gave 17 of them the lowest possible rating for anti-trafficking efforts. The "Tier Three" countries included 10 holdovers from last year - Burma, Cuba, Fiji, Iran, Kuwait, North Korea, Papua-New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria.

Four countries with poor ratings last year were downgraded to the lowest category - Chad, Malaysia, Niger and Zimbabwe. Three that were not covered in the 2008 report, Eritrea, Mauritania and Swaziland, were also listed in Tier Three.

At the same time, four Tier-Three countries from last year were upgraded in recognition of their anti-trafficking efforts - Algeria, Moldova, Oman and Qatar.

Among several members of Congress at the event was the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who stressed the fact that an estimated 80 percent of trafficking victims are women and half are children. "In Iran, children are forced into sexual slavery, involuntary servitude, while Iranian girls are trafficked into Pakistan and numerous other countries. In Syria, women are trafficked from South and Southeast Asia and are forced to work as domestic servants. And women from Eastern Europe and Iraq are forced into prostitution."

- Asian Tribune -

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