June 19 (Bloomberg) -- The global fight against human trafficking made important strides in the past year, with an increase in the prosecution of perpetrators and identification of victims of slavery, prostitution, forced labor and military conscription of children, the Obama administration said today.
The State Department added Syria to the list of nations with the poorest records combating human trafficking, while Myanmar, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Israel and Bangladesh were among those that improved their efforts, according to the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report released today.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said 29 countries of 185 evaluated showed improvements in combating trafficking by enacting new laws, stepping up investigations, assisting victims or creating action plans. Myanmar, also known as Burma, repealed a law used to justify forced labor and established a hotline in September that has led to the rescue of 57 victims, the State Department said.
While Clinton said progress is being made, she said there are an estimated 27 million victims of modern slavery worldwide whose “stories remind us of what kind of inhumane treatment we are still capable of as human beings.”
The number of human trafficking victims identified around the world increased 28 percent to more than 42,000 over the last year, a sign that governments are seeking out victims and attempting to prosecute those guilty of enslaving them, Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat human trafficking, told reporters in Washington.
Several nations declined in the rankings, including Nigeria, Portugal and Syria, where the government of President Bashar al-Assad has failed to stop the trafficking of thousands of women from the Philippines, Indonesia and Somalia who have been forced into domestic labor and prostitution, according to the report.
Syria joins nations including Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Zimbabwe that have the poorest records of preventing and prosecuting human trafficking, according to the report. These worst-offending nations that fail to comply with minimum standards fell to 17 from 23 last year.
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