U.S. Puts Nations on Notice for Trafficking

Associated Press + More

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Monday warned more than a dozen states, including perennial rogues Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Myanmar, of possible sanctions for failing to do enough to fight human trafficking.

The State Department's 10th annual review of global efforts to eliminate the trade in human beings and sexual slavery put 13 countries on notice that they are not complying with minimum international standards and could face U.S. penalties.

Other nations receiving a failing grade were the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Kuwait, Mauritania, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Another 58 countries were placed on a "watch list" that could lead to sanctions unless their records improve.

For the first time, the United States was included in the department's "Trafficking in Persons Report" and was given high marks. The report said that while trafficking is a problem here, the U.S. is complying with all minimum standards. It placed the U.S. along with 27 other mainly European countries in the top "Tier 1" category for compliance.

"We believe it is important to keep the spotlight on ourselves," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in presenting the report. "Human trafficking is not someone else's problem. Involuntary servitude is not something we can ignore or hope doesn't exist in our own communities."

The report, which looked at 177 countries, demoted Switzerland from the top tier because it said Swiss law does not bar prostitution by 16- and 17-year-olds in all cases. As a result, it said Switzerland risks becoming a child sex tourism destination. Switzerland was ranked in "Tier 2," a category that does not carry the threat of sanctions.