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US brands Russia, China worst in trafficking
June 21, 2013, 4:58 am

The report states that the Russian government “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” [AP]

The report states that the Russian government “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” [AP]

In a move that opens the door to sanctions, the US State Department named Russia and China among the world’s worst countries in terms of forced labour and sex trafficking in its 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report.

The report states that the Russian government “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”

According to the report released earlier in the week, Russian authorities “had not established any concrete system for the identification or care of trafficking victims, lacking any formal victim identification and referral mechanism,” though they made some “ad hoc efforts”.

“Labour trafficking remains the predominant human trafficking problem within Russia; the Migration Research Centre estimates that one million people in Russia are exposed to “exploitative” labour conditions characteristic of trafficking cases, such as withholding of documents, nonpayment for services, physical abuse, or extremely poor living conditions,” the report reads.

Earlier this year, China’s State Council criticised the US for positioning itself as “the world judge of human rights”.

“As in previous years, the reports are full of carping and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China.”

“However, the US turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it,’ said a Chinese report in April.

Mark Sleboda, a senior lecturer and researcher of international relations and security at the Centre for Conservative Studies at Moscow State University, concedes that Russia has definite problems in this regard but says the US downgrading can only be seen as politically motivated.

“The report does not indicate any increase in the incidence of human trafficking in Russia in the last year, which might be a cause for genuine alarm. The biggest complaint, that the report seems to have about Russia, is that it does not recognize itself as being guilty, and of not establishing an administrative recording and identification system such as the US has implemented.” Sleboda told The BRICS Post.

Russia, along with China, was downgraded to the lowest level, Tier 3, and may face sanctions that do not affect trade or humanitarian assistance, such as educational funding or culture programmes.

The sanctions may come into force on October 1, 2013, if the US president does not decide otherwise.

Russia has been placed on a Tier 2 Watch List for the last nine consecutive years.

In the two previous reports, the country was granted consecutive waivers from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because of a written plan to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

A maximum of two consecutive waivers are allowed, so this option is no longer available to Russia.

For its part, Moscow reacted with outrage at the possibility of US sanctions over its human trafficking record and warned of strong countermeasures, a high-ranking Russian official said Thursday.

“Naturally, any unfriendly moves will be met with an effective response on our part,” Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special representative for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, said in a statement.

He acknowledged that Moscow had been “repeatedly warned about an upcoming downgrade in its ratings,” to avoid which it had to meet a number of “recommendations.” But the official emphasized that it was unacceptable for Russia to adjust its legislation and law enforcement practice to “US paradigms.”

Source: Agencies