Human trafficking a global scourge: US report

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A new US State Department report finds that human trafficking remains a scourge in all parts of the world, including at home.

“Every country can do more” to fight this modern form of slavery, “including the United States, which has a significant human trafficking problem,” the Trafficking in Persons 2009 Report says.

The Department of State is by law required to submit a report on human trafficking to the US Congress every year and evaluate other governments` efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 allows for the imposition of sanctions against countries that fail to do a US-set minimum to fight the problem.

“Human trafficking is a multi-dimensional issue. It is a crime that deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, increases global health risks, fuels growing networks

of organized crime, and can sustain levels of poverty and impede development in certain

areas,” the report says in its introduction.

“The impacts of human trafficking are devastating. Victims may suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, and even death. But the devastation also extends beyond individual victims; human trafficking undermines the health, safety, and security of all nations it touches.”

“A growing community of nations is making significant efforts to eliminate this atrocious

Crime,” the report adds. The TVPA outlines minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons. Countries that do not make significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards receive a Tier 3 ranking in this report. Such an assessment could prompt the United States to withhold non-humanitarian, non-trade-related foreign

assistance.”

“In assessing foreign governments` efforts, the report highlights the “three P`s”—

prosecution, protection, and prevention. But a victim-centered approach to trafficking also requires attention to the “three R`s”—rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration. Sharing the best practices in these areas will encourage governments to go beyond the initial rescue of victims and restore to them dignity and the hope of productive lives,” the report continues.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) –the United Nations agency charged with addressing labor standards, employment, and social protection issues—estimates that there are at least 12.3 million adults and children in forced labor, bonded labour, and commercial sexual servitude at any given time.

Of these victims, the ILO estimates that at least 1.39 million are victims of commercial sexual servitude, both transnational and within countries. According to the ILO, 56% of all forced labour victims are women and girls.

Only one African country – Mauritius – is listed as a Tier 1 country, meaning it is adjudged compliant with the US Act. Seven countries are listed as Tier 3: Chad, Eritrea, Mauretania, Niger, Sudan, Swaziland and Switzerland. Most other countries, including South Africa are regarded as Tier 2, the same bracket as Ireland, Iceland and Japan.

The report identifies SA as a “source, transit, and destination country for trafficked men, women, and children”.

It adds children are largely trafficked within the country from poor rural areas to urban centers like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Bloemfontein – girls trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude; boys trafficked for forced street vending, food service, begging, crime, and agriculture; and both boys and girls trafficked for “muti” (the removal of their organs for traditional medicine).

“The Government of South Africa does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government opened prosecutions against 16 suspected trafficking offenders during the year and is continuing to prepare for late 2009 passage and subsequent implementation of its comprehensive antitrafficking law by developing inter-agency operating procedures and training officials on the law, victim identification, and agency roles.

“Foreign victims in South Africa, however, still face inadequate protection from the government and sometimes are treated as criminals. Labor trafficking does not receive as much government attention as does sex trafficking. Moreover, little or no information is made available about the status of pending prosecutions, and the government suspended



development of a national anti-trafficking plan of action to start the process anew.”