The Worldwide Traffic in Human Beings

The U.S. State Department recently released the first of a series of annual reports on the worldwide trafficking of human beings. According to the “Trafficking in Persons Report,” about 700,000 people — mostly women and children — are pressed into this modern form of slavery every year.

The report grades countries around the world based on their compliance with international treaties designed to prevent such trafficking. The report divides countries into three tiers, with Tier 3 being countries whose legal systems do not comply and are not making significant progress to achieving compliance. The list of Tier 3 countries includes Albania, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sudan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Several of the countries on that list, of course, are close allies of the United States.

The victims of such trafficking end up working as cheap labor in construction sites or clothing factories, while many of the women involved in the trade are forced into prostitution. At a press conference announcing the release of the report, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called the ongoing trafficking in human beings an “abomination against humanity.”


US decries ‘modern-day slavery’. The BBC, July 12, 2001.

Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report. The United States Department of State, 2001.

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