Wednesday, June 13, 2007


The Bush administration yesterday added seven nations, including several key U.S. allies in the Middle East, to its human-trafficking blacklist for failing to halt what it called the scourge of “modern-day slavery.”

Countries on the list are subject to sanctions for not doing enough to stop the yearly flow of about 800,000 people — 80 percent of them female and more than half of them children — across international borders for prostitution and other forms of forced and indentured labor.

Among U.S. friends getting a failing grade were Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, which along with Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and Malaysia joined for the first time perennial offenders Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria in the State Department’s annual “Trafficking in Persons Report.”

Sixteen states in all — four more than in 2006 — were given so-called “Tier 3” status in the 236-page survey of global efforts to combat trafficking in people, many of whom are seeking to escape poverty in Eastern Europe, South and Southeast Asia and are sold into prostitution, manual labor or mistreated as domestics.

Despite the additions, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “More and more countries are coming to see human trafficking for what it is — a modern-day form of slavery that devastates families and communities around the world.”

Countries with Tier 3, the lowest of three rankings, “do not fully comply with the minimum standards [to fight trafficking] and are not making significant efforts to do so,” which makes them eligible for U.S. economic sanctions.

Most of this year’s additions to Tier 3 are Muslim or predominantly Muslim nations, many of which have the means to enforce foreign workers’ rights and anti-trafficking laws.

The complete list of Tier 3 countries in this year’s report is: Algeria, Bahrain, Burma, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

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