Since the release in June of the U.S. State Department’s 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report, four countries cited for not meeting minimum standards have made steps to combat trafficking in recent months. The State Department says that Bangladesh, Ecuador, Guyana, and Sierra Leone are increasing prosecution, creating anti-trafficking police units, establishing legislation, and waging public awareness campaigns to combat modern-day slavery in their respective countries.
The steps taken by those four countries stand in contrast to the continuing failure of other countries, namely Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, and Venezuela. This month, President George W. Bush decided to impose full or partial sanctions on those six countries for their lack of efforts to combat the trafficking of human beings.
The latest estimates by the U.S. show that every year, some six-hundred-thousand to eight-hundred-thousand people are trafficked across country borders. Of those, more than seventy-percent are women and girls, the majority of whom are forced into sexual servitude. United Nations experts say that the trafficking of human beings is now the third largest revenue generator for organized crime groups, behind only the illicit trade in arms and drugs.
At the U-N General Assembly, in New York City, President Bush said the U.S. “and many nations have joined together to confront the evil trafficking in human beings:
“We’re supporting organizations that rescue the victims, passing stronger anti-trafficking laws, and warning travelers that they will be held to account for supporting this modern form of slavery. Women and children should never be exploited for pleasure or greed, anywhere on earth.”
Since 2001, the U.S. has provided more than two-hundred-ninety-five-million dollars in support of anti-trafficking programs for more than one-hundred-twenty countries. This support and cooperation has contributed to the prosecution of nearly eight-thousand perpetrators of trafficking crimes around the world.
“We’ve got a problem. We need to do something about it,” says President Bush. “This trade in human beings brings suffering to the innocent...and we will lead the fight against it.”