US adds six African countries to trafficking blacklist

The United States on Tuesday added six African countries to a blacklist of countries trafficking in people, and put US trading partner Malaysia back on the list.

Chad, Eritrea, Niger, Mauritania, Swaziland and Zimbabwe were added to the list in the annual report, which analysed efforts in 173 countries to fight trafficking in humans for forced labour, prostitution, military service and other reasons.

“The global economic crisis is also boosting the demand side of human trafficking,” the report said.

Staying on the blacklist list are US allies Saudi Arabia and Kuwait but also Cuba, Fiji, Iran, Burma, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Sudan and Syria, according to the State Department report for 2009.

Removed from the list were Qatar, Oman, Algeria, and Moldova.

All the countries on the list risk sanctions, including the suspension of US non-humanitarian aid.

The Trafficking in Persons Report said Malaysia “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so”.

Last year the report bumped Malaysia up to a “watch list” from the 2007 blacklist after finding that it was “making significant efforts” to comply with such standards.

The new report said that “while the government took initial actions under the anti-trafficking law against sex trafficking, it has yet to fully address trafficking in persons issues, particularly labour trafficking in Malaysia.”

It said initial efforts by the Malaysian immigration department to fight human trafficking were overshadowed by “credible allegations” that some immigration officials took part in trafficking and extorting refugees from Burma.

It cited allegations released in a US Senate report in April this year.

Like many of the other African countries on the blacklist, the report said, Zimbabwe “is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation”.

Some of the many Zimbabweans who fled to neighbouring countries amid Zimbabwe’s severe economic and political crisis faced “human trafficking”, it said.—Sapa-AFP

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