International, the 20th of June 2010 [PDN]: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has made women and children’s rights a signature issue, labelled human trafficking a “terrible crime” in presenting the State Department’s annual report.
In the report, it is estimated that some 12.3 million people were victims of trafficking in 2009-10, however it is also stated that there has been a marked progress made in eradicating the crime over the past decade.
Asian countries added to the list of offending or non-compliant nations included; Afghanistan, Brunei, Laos, Maldives, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Whilst remaining on the list from the previous report were Bangladesh, China, India, Micronesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Countries that do not even meet the basic requirements to prevent or restrict human trafficking within the Asia region include; North Korea, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Cambodia.
Despite the pleas of Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia Senator Jim Webb in not downgrading Thailand’s position on the watch list, the US State Department unconditionally disregarded Mr. Webb’s statements. Senator Webb argued that a downgrading of Thailand’s status on the list could actually hamper democratic policy changes on the issue due to the recent turbulent political situation in the Kingdom.
The US State Department revealed that Thailand’s position as a source, destination and transit point for human trafficking means it is essential that they are listed as non-compliant in the eyes of the international community. Ethnic minorities and citizens from neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos are treated notoriously bad often forced into unpaid labour or prostitution.
Perhaps most controversially, the downgrading of Singapore on the recent report signified the increase in Chinese, Thai and Filipino woman being tricked into immigrating to the city-state with the promise of legitimate employment being used to coerce them into the thriving sex trade.