Skip to comments.Recession Fueling Human Trafficking Worldwide
Posted on 06/18/2009 2:36:04 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
Washington, D.C. (AHN) - The global recession is pushing workers to become more vulnerable to human trafficking, and employers to seek cheaper and/or forced labor. Trafficking, which affects 12.3 million people worldwide, includes forms of involuntary labor that don't involve the physical transport of victims such as the illegal trade of human organs.
"The last year was marked also by the onset of a global financial crisis, which has raised the specter of increased human trafficking around the world," the State Department said in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report. "As a result of the crisis, two concurrent trends-a shrinking global demand for labor and a growing supply of workers willing to take ever greater risks for economic opportunities-seem a recipe for increased forced labor cases of migrant workers and women in prostitution."
The U.S. agency has been required since 2000 to provide Congress with an annual assessment of efforts by foreign governments to stop human trafficking. The assessments are made based on the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, and presented through country rankings.
This year's report assessed 175 nations, only 28 of which were in Tier 1, or deemed fully compliant with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Most of the countries in the top group are developed nations; exceptions include Nigeria, which the State Department said had moved up from the "cusp of Tier 3" within five years "because of political will."
Tier 2 includes countries who do not fully comply with the standards but are "making significant efforts" to do so. It includes Belarus, Brazil, Brunei, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Morocco, Portugal, Singapore, and South Africa.
The next category of nations is a special group called the Tier 2 Watch List. Countries ranked here must must have at least one of three conditions such as "a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking."
Among those in the list are Argentina, Belize, Cambodia China Egypt, India, Iraq, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Yemen.
There has been a 30 percent increase in the watch list since last year, which the State Department attributes to the greater number of nations assessed in this year's report, the tightening of standards by Congress last fall, and the worldwide economic crisis.
The lowest ranking, Tier 3, has 17 nations, including Burman, Chad, Cuba, Fiji, Iran, Malaysia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Zimbabwe.
As in previous years, the United States is not ranked, but the report coincides with another one by the U.S. Justice Department about trafficking in the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also said next year's trafficking report would include assessments of U.S. efforts.
Clinton also said in a speech this week announcing the report, "The Trafficking Report is not an indictment of past failures, but a guide for future progress... Trafficking thrives in the shadows, and it can be easy to dismiss it as something that happens to someone else, somewhere else. But that's not the case. Trafficking is a crime that involves every nation on earth, and that includes our own."
Amb. Luis CdeBaca, director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, had also said in a press briefing, "The use of the word 'trafficking' seems to have the notion of movement built into it. Under both U.S. law and under the United Nations protocol, movement is not required. And so what we're really dealing with is we're dealing with that notion of global forced labor, global enslavement."
"One of the things that we see is the notion that a number of companies are beginning to take a look at their supply chain, whether it's in agriculture, whether it's in raw materials, and to try and figure out what needs to be done to have a slavery-free supply chain. And we not only applaud those efforts, we're going to be trying to have public-private partnerships to work with companies that will engage in that way," he added.
The report comes on the heels of last month's report from the International Labor Organization saying 12.3 million people are currently held in bondage worldwide, 1.5 million of whom are being used for sexual slavery and of the remaining victims in force labor, 56 percent are women and girls. It also estimated $31 billion in profits to human traffickers.