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U.S. State Department releases annual report on human trafficking, downgrades Thailand and Venezuela

2014-06-28

Human trafficking is a worldwide issue. It effects every single country. In the 2014 Trafficking in Persons report, the U.S. Department of State analyzed how severe the problem is. Given how often Pope Francis has talked about the issue, it's not surprise that his words and images appear in the report. 

KEN HACKETT
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
"Pope Francis' engagement on the issue of fighting human trafficking is immensely important. He has raised the attention level of the world to this particular issue. FLASH The Vatican's attention, Pope's Francis specific interest in eliminating this scourge has done wonders to an issue that was maybe put aside in the past.”

All countries are ranked using a series of factors, including government and NGO data, and the network of American embassies. The countries are then divided into four tiers, the first is the best equipped to fight all forms of trafficking.

KEN HACKETT
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
"There are few countries that have been raised in the report. Switzerland is one, Jordan, Haiti... Haiti, for instance passed a legislation that for the first time declared slavery as a crime. I mean, one would say: 'About time.' But nonetheless there is progress.”

The lowest of the tiers, the worst, includes 23 countries, located mainly in Africa and Asia. This year, the report downgraded both Thailand and Venezuela to the lowest tier

According to the report, the situation in Thailand is severe, but the government hasn't done enough. One trouble spot is forced labor in the country's fishing industry. It cites corrupt government officials as one of the greatest challenges.

The report also singled out Venezuela's lack of progress. It said that the country's tourism sector and location in the Caribbean make it prone to sex trafficking; and it noted the exploitation of nearly 30,000 Cuban doctors and nurses brought in, in exchange for cheap oil to Cuba.

For the 12th year, the U.S. State Department included Somalia as a special case. The government controls little territory, and violence from Islamists, plus piracy at sea, make it hard to tackle human trafficking. 

The 23 countries at the bottom tier, could face sanctions by the U.S. Government. But rankings aside, the report also noted that all countries, including the United States, can still do more to fight human trafficking.


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