News / Middle East

US Adds Syria to List of Countries Not Doing Enough to Fight Slavery

Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton holds up a copy of the "2012 Trafficking in Persons Report" at the State Department, June 19, 2012.
Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton holds up a copy of the "2012 Trafficking in Persons Report" at the State Department, June 19, 2012.
STATE DEPARTMENT -- The United States is adding Syria to a list of countries that could face sanctions for not doing enough to fight human trafficking.  The annual U.S. report on worldwide slavery says Burma and Venezuela are among those countries making progress.

The State Department report says thousands of women from Somalia, Indonesia, Iraq and the Philippines are victims of prostitution and forced labor in Syria after being duped by fraudulent employment agencies.  The report puts President Bashar al-Assad's government on a list of countries that could face sanctions over these abuses because it says Damascus is failing to investigate or punish those responsible.

Releasing the study of conditions in more than 180 nations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that some people are lured abroad by false promises of new opportunities and that others are abused in their own countries.

"These victims of modern slavery are women and men, girls and boys," she said. "And their stories remind of us what kind of inhumane treatment we are still capable of as human beings."

Along with Syria, the 2012 report says human trafficking is worst in Algeria, the Central African Republic, Saudi Arabia, Congo, Cuba, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Yemen, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Kuwait, Libya, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea.

"Traffickers prey on the hopes and dreams of those seeking a better life," Clinton said. "And our goal should be to put those hopes and dreams within reach, whether it is getting a good job to send money home to support a family, trying to get an education for oneself or one's children, or simply pursuing new opportunities that might lead to a better life.  We need to ensure that all survivors have that opportunity to move past what they endured and to make the most of their potential."

The report focuses on the need for prevention, protection, and prosecution.  Secretary Clinton highlighted the accomplishments of individuals who are fighting human trafficking in Mauritania, Aruba, the Sinai Peninsula, Argentina, Cambodia and Congo.

"They do remind us that one person's commitment and passion, one person's experience and the courage to share that experience with the world, can have a huge impact," she said.

Congolese physician Raimi Vincent Paraiso spoke on behalf of those recognized for their work against human trafficking.

Dr. Paraiso said human trafficking has reached alarming proportions around the world.  He noted that the Republic of Congo and many other countries represented here unfortunately are not spared from this crime, and that the international community can not remain silent and must continue to respond relentlessly.

The International Labor Organization says at least 21 million people are enslaved around the world.

The State Department report says the number of trafficking victims identified by governments worldwide is up 28 percent - from more than 33,000 last year to more than 42,000 this year, but with notable improvements in Venezuela and Burma.

The report commends Venezuela for strengthening anti-trafficking laws, improving training for border patrols and law enforcement, and launching public information campaigns against slavery.  But it says President Hugo Chavez's government falls short of minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking because of weak prosecution efforts and insufficient victim services.

The report says Burma is taking "unprecedented steps" to fight human trafficking by repealing laws used to justify forced labor, while better identifying and helping victims of slavery.  It says trafficking by private individuals and government officials continues to be a "significant problem" along with the conscription of child soldiers in areas of ethnic conflict.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs