[QODLink]
Americas

US blacklists three nations over trafficking

Thailand, Malaysia and Venezuela now open to sanctions for what US calls a failure to fight human trafficking.

Last updated: 21 Jun 2014 10:13
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Report says Thai officials were complicit in the exploitation of Rohingya Muslims [EPA]

The United States has blacklisted Thailand, Malaysia and Venezuela, accusing them of failing to stop human trafficking, opening them to possible sanctions, and putting them in the same category as North Korea and Syria.

The three countries were all downgraded to the lowest "Tier 3" status in the 2014 US State Department report on trafficking released on Friday.

The report said the countries failed to meet minimum standards in fighting human trafficking, which affects 20 million people globally.

There cannot be impunity for those who traffic in human beings. It must end.

John Kerry, US Secretary of State

Secretary of State John Kerry launched the annual report of how 188 governments around the world have performed in fighting the flesh trade and other forms of exploitative labour.

"There cannot be impunity for those who traffic in human beings. It must end,'' Kerry said, describing it as slavery in the 21st century and an illicit business generating annual profits of $150bn.

Other countries in the list are Gambia, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Zimbabwe.

Qatar, where more than 90 percent of the workers are foreign migrants, was demoted to watch list status. That comes as the country ramps up construction to host the 2022 football World Cup.

The department, however, improved its rating of strategic rival China, citing Beijing's steps to abolish re-education-through-labour camps.

In April, US politicians called on President Barack Obama to punish countries that do too little to fight trafficking.

With the release of the report, Obama now has 90 days to determine whether to apply sanctions against those governments.

Fighting a downgrade

Thailand, the oldest ally of the US in Asia, had mounted a determined campaign to prevent the downgrade that could hurt its seafood and shrimp industries for which America is a key market.

Thai ambassador to the US, Vijavat Isarabhakdi said he was disappointed with the report, saying it did not recognise "our vigorous, government-wide efforts that yielded unprecedented progress and concrete results."

The US report said the majority of trafficking victims in Thailand - "tens of thousands ... by conservative estimates" - were migrants from neighbouring countries "forced, coerced, or defrauded into labour or exploited in the sex trade".

The report cited stories of "trafficking-related complicity by Thai civilian and navy personnel in crimes involving the exploitation" of Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar by the tens of thousands over the past year.

The head of Thailand's ruling military council, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, vowed to crack down on trafficking, saying in a television address, "We will cover the loopholes of exploitation by influential groups and capitalists."

In the case of Malaysia, the report said it had made "inadequate efforts to improve its flawed victim-protection regime" and had investigated fewer trafficking cases in 2013 than in 2012.

Meanwhile, the report said Venezuela was making insufficient efforts to combat sex trafficking and forced labour.

492

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Some scientists say authorities in favour of nuclear energy tend to deny the negative results of researchers.
Report on child sex abuse in British Asian community highlights issues that may affect the entire nation.
Taliban makes quick gains in Afghanistan with little opposition from Afghan army as US withdrawal begins.
Experts from Minamata, Japan check for signs of mercury illnesses in Ontario, Canada.
Record numbers of migrants have made harrowing sea journeys to Italy and Greece this year.
join our mailing list