Washington, Jun 28: After a gap of six years, the United States has taken India off the human trafficking ‘Watch List' for making significant efforts in combating the menace.
In its annual Trafficking in Persons report, the State Department has upgraded India to Tier 2 countries after keeping it on a ‘Watch List' for six years.The Watch List is for those countries where the number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing and there is a failure to
provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat it.
Tier 2 is for those countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act's (TVPA) but are making significant efforts in this regard.
“The Government of India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking;however, it is making significant efforts to do so,” the State Department said in its report justifying its decision to upgrade India's position.
The report analysed conditions in 184 countries and ranked them in terms of their effectiveness in fighting the human trafficking.It has identified 23 nations as failing to meet minimum international standards to curb the scourge, which claims mainly women and children as victims. That's up from 13 in 2010. Another 41 countries were placed on the “watch list”that could lead to sanctions unless their records improve.
“All countries can and must do more,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said while releasing the report. “More human beings are being exploited today than ever before.”“The Ministry of Home Affairs' launched the government's ‘Comprehensive Scheme for Strengthening Law Enforcement Response in India', which seeks to improve India's overall law enforcement response to all forms of trafficking,including bonded labor, and established at least 87 new Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs),” the State Department said.
“The government also ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol. The government took important law enforcement steps by convicting several bonded labor offenders with sentences
between five and 14 years and improved rescue and rehabilitation efforts for bonded laborers.
“Overall law enforcement efforts against bonded labor,however, remained inadequate, and the complicity of public officials in human trafficking remained a serious problem,which impeded progress,” it said.
As such it recommended the central and state government law enforcement capacity to fight against all forms of human trafficking; work towards ensuring that national
legislation prohibits and punishes all forms of human trafficking; and increase intrastate and interstate investigations, prosecutions, and convictions on all forms of
trafficking, including bonded labor, the report said.
“India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The forced labor of millions of its citizens constitutes India's largest trafficking problem; men, women,and children in debt bondage are forced to work in industries such as brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories,” the report said.
It added that women and girls are trafficked within the country for the purposes of forced prostitution. Religious pilgrimage centers and cities popular for tourism continue to be vulnerable to child sex tourism.
AP adds: The Obama administration on Monday nearly doubled the number of countries that may face U.S. sanctions for not doing enough to combat human trafficking, calling on those and other nations to get serious and take tough steps to eradicate the lucrative illicit practice.
In its annual Trafficking in Persons report, the State Department identified 23 nations as failing to meet minimum international standards to curb the scourge, which claims mainly women and children as victims.
That's up from 13 in 2010. Another 41 countries were placed on a "watch list" that could lead to sanctions unless their records improve.
The report analyzed conditions in 184 nations, including the United States, and ranked them in terms of their effectiveness in fighting what many have termed modern-day slavery.
The State Department estimates that as many as 27 million men, women and children are living in such bondage around the worlds.
"All countries can and must do more," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in presenting the report. "More human beings are being exploited today than ever before."
"We're at critical moment in this fight," she said. "The problem of modern trafficking may be entrenched, and it may seem like there is no end in sight. But if we act on the laws that have been passed and the commitments that have been made, it is solvable. If we increase the pressure on traffickers and the networks they thrive in, we can set ourselves on a course to one day eradicate modern slavery."
Republican Rep. Chris Smith, an author of the law that established the report and offered protection to trafficking victims, said he was "deeply disappointed" that China was given a political waiver despite its contining and expanding problem of human trafficking, particularly sex-trafficking of women and girls.
"This political waiver for China is totally unacceptable," Smith said.
"The Obama administration has again abandoned trafficking victims in China, who are predominantly women. It's shameful."
Among the countries on the blacklist are Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea and Sudan along with frequent U.S. foes Eritrea, Libya and Zimbabwe.
Others are U.S. allies in the Middle East like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia while Papua New Guinea was cited as a repeat offender. Only one country, the Dominican Republic, was removed from the list.
The 11 new countries on the blacklist are Algeria, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Micronesia, Turkmenistan, Venezuela and Yemen.Separately, the report also cited six nations -- Chad, Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen -- for using child soldiers and not taking steps to end the practice. AP