The 2005 U.S. State Department "Trafficking in Persons" report says trafficking of humans is one of the fastest growing criminal activities around the world, a form of modern day slavery, trafficking affects between 600,000 and 800,000 people annually.
The report focused on transnational trafficking of victims who are abducted, forced, defrauded or coerced into sexual or labor exploitation. The report does not include the millions of victims who are trafficked for labor exploitation within their own borders.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said 80 percent of trafficking victims are women and girls. Half of all victims are children, many of them sold by their own families. "They're made to toil on farms and in work camps. In brothels and in sweatshops, children are even forced to become soldiers, whatever cruel form of servitude they may take, and trafficking victims live in fear and misery. And where ever the trafficking trade flourishes, the rule of law erodes, corruption thrives, public health suffers and organized crime threatens the security of entire communities."
Secretary Rice said destination or "demand" countries, such as the United States and other prosperous nations create a marketplace for traffic victims and should share in the responsibility to close down trafficking routes.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that human trafficking generates $9.5 billion annually. U.S. Ambassador John Miller, Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons at the State Department named 14 countries as "worst offender" nations that could be subject to sanctions because they are not doing enough to halt international trafficking. The countries include, Bolivia, Burma, Cambodia, Cuba, Ecuador, Jamaica, Kuwait, North Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Togo, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
"No where on earth is it allowable to systematically abuse children for sport, or to standup while household help is trapped and exploited with no recourse to help or to look the other way while sex traffickers seize young women, " said Ambassador Miller.
Nations that do not take action to combat trafficking within 90 days of the report could be subject to a cut-off of some forms of U.S. assistance. Last year, $96 million in American foreign aid went to countries to help combat trafficking. The 2005 report concluded that more nations are responding to the problems of trafficking and are more transparent in how they combat trafficking.
But every country, including the United States can do more to eliminate trafficking completely. The annual report is in response to legislation enacted five years ago by the U.S. Congress to document human trafficking across international borders.