Slave Trade Still With Us

By John Barham, international editor

Prosecution and conviction for trafficking in people is declining, despite growing awareness of the severity of the problem, says the Department of State’s annual report on Trafficking in Persons. It counted fewer than 6,000  prosecutions worldwide last year, the lowest since 2003. The number of cases tried has fallen every year since 2003. About 3,000 people are convicted annually, a rate that has remained pretty stable every year.

"Only a very small percentage of human trafficking prosecutions [lead to] convictions. Roughly 10 percent of them relate to labor trafficking offenses as compared to sex trafficking offenses,” says Mark P. Lagon, director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Critics say that although U.S. allies with a poor record in human trafficking, such as the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia remained on the list of countries that traffic in people, they have done little to curb the practice. Employers and intermediaries frequently abuse laborers and domestic servants.

Human rights campaigners have also accused United Nations peacekeepers in Africa and the Middle East of sexually exploiting minors and women. The UN says it has adopted measures to prevent or punish these activities. It has about 90,000 uniformed personnel and a further 10,000 UN civilian staff members engaged in peacekeeping worldwide.


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