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)