India on US watchlist for failure to combat human trafficking: rept

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Washington, Jun 5 (UNI) The Bush Administration has placed India on its 'Tier 2 Watchlist' for the fifth consecutive year for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking in the last one year.

US anti-trafficking director Mark Lagon said yesterday that India made some progress but remained on the watch list because of its failure to recognise bonded labour as a form of trafficking.

''The Government of India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so,'' said the US State Department's annual report on human trafficking which was released here yesterday.

''Despite the reported extent of the trafficking crisis in India,'' it pointed out, ''government authorities made uneven efforts to prosecute traffickers and protect trafficking victims.'' The report wants India to expand central and state government law enforcement capacity to conduct intrastate law enforcement activities against trafficking.

It also wants India to consider expanding the central Ministry of Home Affairs 'nodal cell' on trafficking to coordinate law enforcement efforts to investigate and arrest traffickers who cross state and national lines and significantly increase law enforcement efforts to punish labour trafficking offenders.

The 2008 report rated the anti-trafficking performance of 153 countries around the world and 14 were placed in the lowest category, Tier Three, which made them subject to possible US sanctions.

Some major US allies, including Saudi Arabia were put in Tier Three for the fourth consecutive year, along with fellow Arab states Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Syria, Algeria.

Burma, Cuba, Iran, Sudan and North Korea - all countries whose human rights records have been subject to strong US criticism, were also listed in Tier Three while Moldova, Fiji and Papua-New Guinea were added to the category for the first time.

US intelligence estimated that some 800,000 people were trafficked across international borders each year, 80 per cent of them women, and that millions more were exploited within their home countries.

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