A U.S. State Department report called on the governments of Myanmar, China and Russia for their patterns of trafficking and forced labor and said in the Chinese province of Xinjiang “the government is the trafficker” citing a mass arrest campaign and political indoctrination against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups, ”for the past four years.
The State Department report on the world human trafficking published on Thursday also added Turkey, a NATO ally, to the list of countries “armed forces, police or other security forces” recruit or use child soldiers.
The appointment could mean sanctions on military aid or sales for those countries unless the U.S. president issues a resignation.
“We document 11 countries where the government itself is the trafficker. For example, through forced labor on public works projects or in sectors of the economy that the government considers to be particularly important, ”Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a press conference.
“For the tenth consecutive year, the report documents how the Cuban government has benefited from the operation of medical missions abroad.”
In all, according to the Biden administration, 17 countries did not do enough to combat human trafficking.
The 2021 annual report also highlighted people who became most vulnerable to global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the “systemic racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination” that create inequitable societies, said Blinken.
The Annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, published since 2001, uses the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) to define “serious” human trafficking assex trafficking in which a commercial sexual act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform that act ”is not 18 years old.
The definition also includes “the hiring, lodging, transportation, supply, or obtaining of a person for work or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of being subjected to involuntary servitude.”
While the exact figures are unknown, “the estimate we often quote is that about 25 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking,” Blinken said. “It simply came to our notice then commercial sex work. Many are forced to work in factories or camps or join armed groups. Millions of victims of trafficking are children. This crime is an insult to human rights. “
The TIP report classifies countries into levels according to their compliance with the minimum standard for eliminating human trafficking according to the TVPA.
There are three levels. Level 1 includes governments that fully meet the minimum standards. Level 2 it includes governments that do not meet the requirements, “but that make significant efforts to meet them,” the report says.
There is a Level 2 watch list, which includes states where the “estimated number of victims of serious forms of trafficking is very significant or is increasing significantly” and those who do not “provide evidence of growing efforts to combat serious forms of trafficking.” of people from the previous year ”.
The worst rank, level 3, is for countries “whose governments do not fully meet the minimum standards” and are not making significant efforts to do so. ”Being at this level means that countries“ may be subject to to certain restrictions on foreign assistance “in the event that the President decides to withhold the withholding.
The State Department lowered Malaysia and Guinea-Bissau to level 3 this year.
The movement comes after the US banned three Malaysian companies in the palm oil and electronics industry in the last year due to concern about forced labor and abusive working and living conditions.
Azry Akmar Ayob, a member of the anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling division of Malaysian police, told Reuters news agency on June 30 that these labor issues were not widespread.
Impact of COVID
The report especially highlights the effect of the pandemic on trafficking and those working to stop crime.
Women and children were severely affected by the pandemic, according to the report, along with those facing economic and food insecurity.
The blockades meant to stop the spread of COVID-19, sparked “the lack of reliable and accurate data” that “posed a challenge to effective and efficient anti-trafficking efforts around the world” and exacerbated economic insecurity, according to the report.
“It was clear that COVID-19 aggravated the vulnerabilities of millions of individuals and negatively affected efforts to combat human trafficking,” he continued.
He cites a report by the Office for Security and Cooperation of the European Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and UN Women which “highlights that almost 70% of the survivors of trafficking in 35 countries reported that their financial well-being was very strong, affected by COVID-19 ”.
Still, anti-trafficking organizations and governments found “ways to adapt and forge new relationships to overcome challenges,” the report says.
“Some governments and organizations conducted in-depth assessments to identify changing trends. Others have taken advantage of technology to drive innovative solutions. “
Blinken also honored eight “TIP Report Heroes,” which included survivors, government employees, and employees of non-governmental organizations.
Among them was Mohammed al-Obaidly, Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs of Qatar.
The TIP report acknowledges that Qatar has done so not yet resolved all its “human trafficking” or labor rights problems, but al-Obaidy ”and his Ministry team have continued to work towards the goal of increasing transparency and protection against forced labor of migrant workers “.
While the TIP report focuses on global efforts to combat human trafficking, Blinken acknowledged the The shortcomings of the US itself.
Improving cooperation with global partners must include “agreement with our role in perpetuating violence and dehumanizing people, and we must work to correct these past mistakes,” Blinken said.