The U.S. State Department has released its annual report on human trafficking. The report says that the twelve countries with the poorest records in the 2006 assessment are Belize, Burma, Cuba, Iran, Laos, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
According to the report, of the estimated six-hundred-thousand to eight-hundred-thousand people trafficked across international borders each year, "approximately eighty percent are women and girls, and up to fifty percent are minors." The majority of the victims are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Others toil as slave laborers in sweatshops or private homes, or are forced to become child soldiers or camel jockeys.
Ambassador John Miller, Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, says it is difficult to come up with exact numbers:
"Slaves don't stand in line and raise their hands to be counted, given the underground nature of this activity. But if we look at some more general indicators, we see the start. . . .of progress. . . .While several years ago, there were just hundreds of convictions of traffickers, last year there were around three-thousand convictions of traffickers worldwide. And this year, it's up to around four-thousand-seven-hundred. That is sending a message. . . .and that is a good sign."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, "Defeating human trafficking is a great moral calling of our time":
"To date, the United States government has provided almost four-hundred-million dollars to support global anti-trafficking efforts. We are getting results and we are seeing progress and this report is playing a crucial role. By calling to account any nation, friend or foe, that can and should do more to confront human trafficking, we are pressing countries into action."
"All nations that are resolute in the fight to end human trafficking have a partner in the United States," says Secretary of State Rice. "Together," she says, "we will continue to affirm that no human life can be devalued or discounted. Together, we will stop at nothing to end the debasement of our fellow men and women."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.