A U.S. State Department annual report released on Thursday said discriminatory policies perpetuate human trafficking and for the first time a link is being made between the two.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in the human trafficking report that systemic racism creates inequalities, undermining Washington’s fight against human trafficking. A State Department official said it was the first time the report made any link to systemic racism.
The United States has been reviewing its treatment of African Americans since last year nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer. The US authorities warn of increased threats from white racist groups.
“While US efforts to combat trafficking in human beings have grown in scope and sophistication over the years, the United States is still struggling to address the diverse effects of human trafficking on racial minority communities,” the report said. It cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human trafficking as human traffickers benefited from the pandemic and governments diverted resources to address the health crisis.
The report examined countries and territories and ranked them into four levels, with countries like Ethiopia downgraded but others upgraded. ETHIOPIA
The United States accused Ethiopia of failing to step up efforts to eradicate trafficking in human beings. The report highlighted the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, which killed thousands of people, displaced over 2 million people and brought hundreds of thousands to the brink of famine.
The report said that since the conflict began in November, international organizations have increasingly reported that armed actors are responsible for human rights abuses and gender-based violence, including potential human trafficking crimes. Ethiopians seeking asylum in Sudan are increasingly vulnerable to human trafficking and unaccompanied children in conflict areas could be recruited by non-state armed groups, the report also warned.
BELARUS Belarus was described as a “most important achievement” even if, as the report said, the government of resident Alexander Lukashenko “did not fully meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in human beings”.
The report did not mention Lukashenko’s brutal crackdown on ongoing protests against his claim to win the 2020 presidential election, which are widely viewed as rigged. SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East, has been cited for “significant efforts” to eradicate trafficking in human beings, the report said. However, the government failed to meet minimum standards in a number of areas, including fines, detention and deportation of foreign workers for prostitution or immigration violations, although many may have been victims of trafficking, the report said.
ISRAEL The report said Israel, Washington’s closest ally in the Middle East, had worked to eradicate trafficking in human beings, but its efforts had been “not serious and sustained” compared to the previous reporting period, even after the effects of COVID-19 Pandemic were taken into account.
The policy of identifying victims “sometimes re-traumatized” and delaying their access to essential care, sometimes years, while the government reduced overall efforts to investigate, prosecute and convict traffickers, it said. Official policies towards foreign workers “increased their vulnerability to trafficking,” the report said, while the only police force officially charged with identifying victims of human trafficking was understaffed for the fifth year in a row.
TURKEY The United States added Turkey to the list of countries involved in the use of child soldiers last year, the first ever NATO ally on such a list, which likely puts the strained Ankara-Washington relations on hold will further complicate.
MALAYSIA The State Department downgraded Malaysia after a series of complaints from human rights groups and US authorities about alleged exploitation of migrant workers in plantations and factories.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)