Among the countries cited in a new State Department report on global human trafficking are Iran, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and North Korea.
In releasing the report, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the fight against trafficking "a great moral calling of our time." She said the United States estimates that up to 800,000 people -- primarily women and children -- are forced each year into lives of "cruel and punishing degradation."
"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," Rice said. "With each year, more and more governments are increasing public awareness of the crime, targeting and prosecuting the perpetrators, and helping victims to rebuild their lives."
Other nations cited by the United States are Belize, Myanmar, Cuba, Laos, Sudan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.
Countries that fail to crack down can be subject to a variety of U.S. sanctions, including the withholding of some kinds of foreign aid. The report says Washington will not cut off trade or humanitarian aid.
The report also says Germany should do more to stop sex workers from Eastern Europe arriving for this month's World Cup.
(with material from AP)
Uzbek women detained in a sweep by police in Jakarta in 2004 (epa)
LOOKING FOR HEROES:
The U.S. State Department report on human trafficking includes a section titled "Heroes Acting To End Modern-Day Slavery." Among the 10 heroes singled out for mention was Uzbek citizen NODIRA KARIMOVA
, head of the Tashkent office of the International Organization for Migration and founder of the NGO Istiqbolli Avlod. Here is how the State Department described Karimova's contribution to the struggle against trafficking:
HOTLINES, SHELTERS, ADVOCACY: Nodira Karimova’s NGO Istiqbolli Avlod has assisted over 300 victims and is operating a shelter for returned trafficking victims. Before the shelter opened, Ms. Karimova and her associates took returned victims into their own homes or even rented apartments for them as they began the process of readjustment. In addition, she has worked to expand the number of trafficking hotlines to 10, receiving over 13,000 calls in the last year. Karimova developed a strong working relationship with the Uzbek consul in the United Arab Emirates that has facilitated the repatriation of many Uzbek women. Ms. Karimova also helped organize training for the Uzbek consular officials stationed overseas in January 2005, which spread awareness and made clear to the consular officials that trafficking is a serious problem that demands serious action. She was instrumental in the decision to open additional shelters, one for sexually exploited victims and another for labor trafficking victims, which will open in 2006.
MEET THE NEWSMAKER: To read an interview with Karimova, click here.
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