US blasts Russia, Thailand in human trafficking report
The United States on Monday accused Russia, Thailand, Iran and Libya of insufficient action against human trafficking, in a damning report on a global scourge which the State Department decried as "modern slavery."
Those nations -- as well as Venezuela, Algeria, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, South Sudan and Zimbabwe -- were at the bottom of a ranking compiled annually by the State Department and announced by Secretary of State John Kerry.
By contrast Malaysia, a Southeast Asian nation which had plummeted last year to the lowest rung, was raised a notch this year to the "Watch List" category of Tier 2, after Kuala Lumpur exhibited "significant efforts" in fighting the trafficking of human beings.
The countries in Tier 3, the lowest category, are those whose governments do not respect international norms or laws on trafficking and "are not making significant efforts to do so," according to the State Department's 382-page report.
Russia has languished in Tier 3 since 2013, a condition which prompted Moscow's wrath at the time.
China meanwhile rose a notch in 2014 to the Tier 2 Watch List, where it remained this year.
Most Western countries, particularly those in Europe and Australia but also Israel, Taiwan and Armenia, are listed in the top tier, praised for their fight against trafficking and for remaining in full compliance with international standards.
According to the International Labour Organization, trafficking in persons represents a $150 billion-a-year industry, including $99 billion for the sex industry alone.
Washington estimates that some 20 million people are victims.
"Trafficking in persons is an insult to human dignity and an assault on freedom," Kerry declared in the introduction to Monday's report as he called for a comprehensive "fight against modern slavery."
© 2015 AFP