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Briefing: 8th Annual Trafficking in Persons Report

Ambassador Mark P. Lagon, Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Washington, DC
June 4, 2008

Briefing on the Release of the Eighth Annual Trafficking in Persons Report

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. Good morning. Secretary Rice has aptly summarized why the U.S. Government is dedicated to ending human trafficking, a deeply dehumanizing form of exploitation. In virtually every country around the world, including the United States, men, women and children are held in domestic servitude, exploited for commercial sex, coerced into work in factories and sweatshops. In some, children are forcibly recruited as soldiers.

These are forms of human trafficking. They are, in fact, forms of modern-day slavery. Estimates of the number of victims vary widely. According to the U.S. intelligence community, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year. About 80 percent of them are female. Up to half are minors. These figures do not include millions who are trafficked for purposes of labor and sexual exploitation within national borders as well.

What’s unique about our policy goal of eradicating modern-day slavery is that we have, very much at Congress’s direction, a comprehensive tool: The Annual Trafficking In Persons Report, which allows us to diagnose the problem and track progress. This year’s report covers 170 countries: 153 are assessed and ranked into Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, and Tier 3; another 17 countries are considered special cases, often because we lack sufficient information to assess whether a significant number of trafficking victims exist in those countries.

In the 2008 TIP Report, as mandated by Congress, we have several essential objectives addressed. To summarize: the country-specific information regarding what foreign governments are doing to prosecute traffickers, to protect victims and to prevent the crime; to initiate bilateral engagement, ongoing year-round in terms of action plans for combating trafficking in persons developed on the basis of each country assessment; to assess patterns and trends in human trafficking in order to confront it more intelligently and to hold poor performers to account; and finally, to inspire greater determination, creativity, and cooperation among governments and anti-trafficking advocates. As a function of the information collected in compiling this document, we know far more today than we did eight years ago with the first edition, or even three years ago, when, for example, we started taking a closer look at forced labor practices.

Let me discuss some of the key trends which emerged in the course of compiling this year’s report. Every trend is best exemplified by an individual tragedy because it’s truly these personal stories of anguish that motivate contemporary abolitionists in dealing with contemporary slavery. Last summer, I met a young Burmese woman, Aye Aye Wynn. She had been recruited to work in a shrimp processing sector of a neighboring country to Burma, together with 800 other Burmese men, women and children. Desperate to leave her country, Aye Aye Wynn described her horror to me at finding herself locked in a factory compound in the middle of a jungle, prevented from leaving or calling family by phone, or even eating decently. She and her Burmese brethren weren’t even paid.

Aye Aye and two others tried to escape. They were hunted down and beaten. They were chained to poles in the middle of the courtyard of the factory compound and they were deprived of food and water. Aye Aye’s hair was shaved as a tool of humiliation before the other workers. This wasn’t a workplace. It was a forced labor camp. Thankfully, Aye Aye was rescued, and the good news is that the national police raid saved her and her compatriots. Around the world, gross examples of forced labor are commonly treated as mere administrative matters or regulatory offenses rather than despicable crimes.

In this year’s TIP Report, for the first time, we broke down global and regional law enforcement data to examine progress in sex trafficking or labor trafficking prosecutions. You’ll find that on page 37 of the report. These statistics indicate that only a very small percentage of human trafficking prosecutions are convictions. Roughly 10 percent of them relate to labor trafficking offenses as compared to prosecutions and convictions related to sex trafficking offenses.

If we’re to end the terrible reality of slave labor, all responsible countries must join forces to hold those guilty of this crime accountable. More attention must be paid to labor trafficking in order to make the stories of vulnerable people like Aye Aye Wynn a part of our past. One example of an industry in which we are concerned over reports of significant forced labor is Thailand shrimp processing and that sector. But in other cases, in Brazil, some charcoal is produced by forced labor and some of that charcoal may be used to produce pig iron. Over half of the 5,800 slaves rescued by Brazilian authorities were found on sugarcane plantations.

Also of concern is China, where several slave labor scandals have recently been uncovered. Some of the cases reportedly involve the complicity of Chinese law enforcement officials themselves. All governments must act to ensure that cheap and efficient production of export goods does not come at the expense of the very dignity and fundamental rights of citizens.

Last winter, in a Bucharest shelter for sex trafficking survivors, I met two young Romanian women, Anca and Silvia. They had been trafficked separately to Western Europe and wound up together in a shelter and they were repatriated from there back home. Both women had the clear look of traumatized people. They clung to each other. Just a few days after we met in Romania, the NGO caring for them discovered that Anca had advanced TB and that Silvia had severe syphilis. Why weren’t these women given proper medical attention before they were repatriated? The time lost made their conditions immensely worse.

Despite increased attention by law enforcement to sex trafficking, we are not seeing, as the findings of this report, significant improvement in victim protection and victim services provided. This trend has to be reversed or we’ll never be able to help significant numbers of victims become survivors. The dehumanized must be restored to their full humanity.

This report focuses on a number of vulnerable groups. They include North Koreans in China, Burmese in Thailand, stateless people, low-skilled migrant workers in general, and foreign domestic workers. One of the most common and desperate faces of modern day slavery is the domestic servant, locked and abused in a private home or apartment, cut off from the rest of the world. One of the highest profile cases in the U.S. this year involved two Indonesian maids who were trapped in a nightmare in a mansion in Long Island, New York. Victims of involuntary domestic servitude are often exploited sexually as well as exploited for their labor.

We’re beginning to see, however, glimmers of recognition among governments that this is an extraordinarily vulnerable population. For instance, the Philippines is a major source of female domestic workers. It recently decided to impose a ban on new maids going to one particular destination country because of the extremely high number of Filipino maids who were regularly escaping from the confines of abusive employers and seeking shelter in the Philippines Embassy. This development signifies a growing resolve on the part of the government to confront exploitation. Governments must start treating this form of slavery as a serious crime. Labor recruiters and brokers who facilitate trafficking through deceitful work offers, contract fraud, and outright force and coercion, they need to be prosecuted and punished with jail sentences.

In past reports, we’ve identified countries where foreign workers are exploited to force, fraud, and coercion, and have placed some of these countries on the lowest tier of the report, Tier 3. This year’s report sheds more light on recruiters, some of whom are licensed by the state, and who often start the chain of trafficking in these labor source countries by fraudulent offers of employment and then excessive recruitment fees that later translate into debt bondage.

Vietnam and Indonesia are key labor source countries in this regard. We’ve seen specific cases of workers from each of these countries trapped into trafficking schemes abroad through the predatory practice of labor recruiters in their own countries. To address this new phenomena, the report includes recommendations for preventive steps that can be taken by both labor source and labor destination governments. These strategies are enumerated on page 16 and 17 of the report’s introduction.

I’ve highlighted five trends: weak prosecution of labor trafficking offenses; secondly, weak trafficking victim protection; third, forced labor creeping into new growth industries; fourth, domestic servitude, and luckily, the problems there are gaining recognition; and fifth, closing a window of vulnerability for migrant workers as an imperative.

But running through this report, in fact, running through much of the U.S. Government’s anti-trafficking work is a new focus, encouraged by Congress, on the factors that create demand for labor and sexual exploitation. Increasingly, we’re scrutinizing products to see if they are tainted by slave labor. Without confronting this demand, we cannot end slavery today.

Demand is also pulling victims into sex and labor trafficking, but it’s not being adequately addressed. As for demand for sex trafficking, it can be seen in the form of males seeking to buy brides from less developed communities with the intent of abusing and exploiting these women, or men traveling abroad to buy children for sex, or men exploiting women, prostituted by pimps. Demand for slave labor is seen broadly in the race to the bottom for cheap labor to produce cheaper export goods.

Since the TIP Report is organized around the performance of individual countries, let me highlight a few strong and weak performers and the rationale for the assessment of each. Moving up to Tier 1, for the first time, Madagascar proved this year that anti-trafficking progress can be achieved with will, despite minimal resources. It’s emerged as a leader among sub-Saharan African countries.

Meanwhile, Moldova fell to Tier 3 for the first time, reflecting its government’s failure to tackle trafficking related corruption as reflected in the handling of several high profile cases of complicity by government officials in trafficking. This failure created a significant impediment to the government’s ability to fight trafficking overall. Now, we’re hopeful that the newly appointed government in Moldova will take significant steps to address complicity by government officials and, furthermore, to improve law enforcement and victim protection efforts. We’ll be engaging with them for that.

Among the news items here, Mexico has moved up to Tier 2, because of important developments over the reporting year, including a comprehensive new anti-trafficking law, funds appropriated by the legislature in Mexico for victim shelters, a demonstrably committed attorney general, and unified efforts of some superb civil society actors. Such developments are rays of hope in Mexico and evidence of a new political will that promises to yield even further improvement in this coming year.

For the last four years, the weak performance of several nations in the Persian Gulf has been a matter of great concern and disappointment. Saudi Arabia, for example, is ranked Tier 3 for the fourth time. As an update, I’m happy to report that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain continue to make significant improvements; notably the United Arab Emirates as a model in the region.

No briefing on human trafficking would be complete without raising the situation in two countries with huge populations and unique trafficking profiles: China and India. China has been ranked Tier 2 Watch List for four consecutive years. While there have been prosecutions of perpetrators of human trafficking and a national action plan was launched, there are insufficient efforts to protect Chinese and foreign victims of trafficking. In China, women and girls from North Korea are particularly at risk. Fleeing the repressive regime in their homeland, as well as poor social and economic conditions, these North Koreans seek refuge in China. But many are preyed upon by Chinese traffickers who sell them into sexual servitude as “wives” – with quotation marks around wives – or into prostitution. When Chinese authorities find these trafficking victims, they’d often send them back to North Korea where they face harsh punishment. The victims are punished rather than cared for.

India has made efforts on the child labor front, rescuing victims. In fact, Indian Labor Minister Oscar Fernandes joined in a raid. But India still doesn’t recognize bonded labor as human trafficking. It has weak anticorruption efforts and prosecutions are too few.

To conclude, as we continue to shed light on emerging global trends for trafficking in persons, we’re steadfast in our support to countries who are willing to partner with us in this global fight. Just as the transatlantic slave trade was abolished 200 years ago, slavery today can be abolished again. Let’s remain committed to act as a voice for the many voiceless victims of human trafficking: an advocate for the prostituted woman or child, the exploited domestic worker, the trapped agricultural laborer. Their bondage demands our attention and action.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to state how much good work I’ve seen throughout the year since I last stood here a year ago. And I want to tell you how much I personally appreciate the increasing cooperation of our allies, governments, NGOs, church organizations, and private citizens around the world who are making real strides to prevent trafficking in persons and to help victims reclaims their lives and self respect.

I’d welcome your questions.

QUESTION: You spoke a little bit about slave labor camps that have been uncovered in China. Have you found that any products destined for the Olympic Games have been tainted by slave labor, to use your word? And then I had a question – a follow-up thing on Venezuela. They appear to have actually improved this year.

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Mm-hmm. First of all, any time that there’s a major sporting event, whether it be, you know, World Cup soccer or the biggest of all, the Olympics, one has to be concerned about the massive construction work possibly being subject to human trafficking exploitation and a spike in commercial sexual exploitation.

With respect to China, I actually would say we have to look at the general situation of human rights that we’re – the world is called upon to look at as the Olympic Games are coming together. It’s 19 years ago today that the Tiananmen Square massacre occurred. And there’s a lot of focus on human rights, in general, in China as the Olympics are about to occur.

But we need to recognize that there is a problem of human trafficking that’s not specific to the Olympics occurring, but the Olympics brings attention to. There has been examples of people caught in slavery in brick kilns and, in fact, resold to other kilns by government officials who are corrupt, been a case recently documented of children who were trafficked to Guangdong Province and were involved in the worst forms of child labor, having been brought from Dongguan. There’s credible evidence of Uighurs, who are moved from --

QUESTION: I’m sorry, of who?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Of Uighur Muslims who have moved from Xinjiang to other parts of China. And most notably, as I emphasized in my opening remarks, North Koreans are subject to re-victimization, because they flee a country in which they face repression and an economic chaos caused by their own government. And whether as bought wives or as workers in the Northeast of China, they have been subject to human trafficking and the worst kind of leverage that could be held over their head, the threat that they’d be sent back to North Korea only to be punished severely by their government.

QUESTION: But specifically, has there been anything that you can point to that would indicate that the Olympic Games has actually increased the number of people in forced labor or – because there’s a need for more product, et cetera, et cetera?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: As I don’t have tangible evidence, I don’t want to overreach. But any time that there’s a substantial building boom and construction, and a vulnerability to massive prostitution designed to service people from abroad, there’s a possibility. But I would direct you to thinking about the longstanding vulnerability to human trafficking in China. China is not only a government that does not protect the liberties of its people, but it manifestly is a government that doesn’t protect its own citizens and foreign nationals from human trafficking.

QUESTION: And on Venezuela?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Yeah. Venezuela has actually moved up this year. And I hope it’s a tribute to the objectivity of our report. We don’t sit in the upper levels of this building and decide which countries are generally human rights abusers or with whom we have problematic relationships, and then determine that they get a lousy ranking in this report. Venezuela has taken some steps: passing a law to prohibit internal trafficking of women and girls, opening up some investigations of human trafficking. There remain problems, including limited victim services and no shelters for victims. So it’s a mixed bag. But truth be told, they don’t belong in the lowest category any longer.

QUESTION: Speaking about the objectivity of the report, there are special cases where you don’t have enough informations. But Iran is on the Tier 3, and you don’t have any embassy in Iran, any relations with Iran for 30 years. So how – on what do you base your informations –

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Well, we – just as Iran is included in the Annual Human Rights Report and is a serious case to examine, we feel that Iran needs to be assessed with a ranking in this report. Yes, it’s a limitation that we have only so much information. But that’s a limitation more based on the closed nature of the Iranian Government than the lack of diplomatic representation of the United States.

I want to say that we try to be very serious about getting evidence. Truthfully, we prod other governments quite hard to give us evidence and data. Congress requires us to tell them about investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and sentences, as well as numbers of trafficking victims found and helped. And we insist on having a baseline as best we can. There are some limits on the information that we got from the Government of Iran. But the picture is pretty clear, one of serious human trafficking.

Elise.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit more about the idea that slave labor is fueling some of these booming industries in these developing countries and the idea that the United States is increasing trade with these countries? We’re relying on some of the products that are fueling these industries. And how much demand is fueling it and whether there should be stricter, kind of, I guess what you say, export controls or import controls on these types of things?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: It’s been the law --

QUESTION: I have one other question.

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Okay, we’ll come back to you. It’s been a law for 78 years under the 1938 Tariff and Trade Act that products of slave labor are not permitted into the country. It’s a matter of implementation. We need to identify those products that are indeed produced by slave labor. My colleagues at ICE, at DHS, are eager and energetic in their efforts internationally to try and run that down.

We don’t want to suggest that all imports from a country are tainted by slave labor when there is evidence of some. I myself have seen in Thailand those who were subjected to slave labor conditions in the shrimp processing sector. That doesn't mean all shrimp that comes into the United States from Thailand is tainted, but there’s a distinct possibility; it’s something we need to look out for.

We need to think about growing trends. I’ll call attention to the profile of Brazil, which is doing a good deal proactively to rescue victims of forced labor, even calling them by the name they deserve, slaves, based on commitment by President Lula. But as it says right here in the report, approximately half of the nearly 6,000 men freed from slave labor in 2007 were found exploited on plantations growing sugarcane for the production of ethanol – a growing trend.

We need to pay attention to this, and there is consumer power, the best kind of market force, to ask the question: Are supply chains clean?

QUESTION: I have one other question.

AMBASSADOR LAGON: One quick follow-up?

QUESTION: It kind of follows up on that. But China and India, you said that they’ve been on the Tier 2 Watch List for the last four – for the last four years. And you say that, you know, it’s not based on who we have a bad relationship with that we give them a bad grade, but what about the countries that we’re trying to have a good relationship with, we have a growing economic relationship with? I mean, how come neither one of those countries has made it to Tier 3? My understanding is there’s been a lot of debate within the Administration about whether they should be listed.

AMBASSADOR LAGON: The Tier 2 Watch List should not be a permanent status. It’s – I think it was designed by Congress to highlight – there’s some countries in Tier 2 that are in danger of potentially ending up on Tier 3. You know, there are some countries that just deserve to be in this new category that was created between Tier 2 and Tier 3. It’s my judgment that Russia, for instance, really doesn't belong in Tier 2 and it really doesn't belong in Tier 3. This is the right call.

With respect to India and China, these are both very serious cases. We’re quite blunt in the report. Frankly, we’re quite blunt in our extensive diplomatic dialogue with these countries. There are some positive developments in each. In India, there’s been an effort to focus on rescuing victims both in sex trafficking and in child labor, but as far as prosecutions across the board, as far as fighting corruption as a facilitator of human trafficking and in particular a recognition that bonded labor is extensive and a human trafficking problem, it remains a serious situation.

QUESTION: So you feel comfortable that they’re still on Tier 2 Watch List?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Indeed, indeed. And with respect to China, while they have made some progress in law enforcement on a national action plan, there remain a number of problems that I’ve enumerated earlier that deserve serious attention.

Sir.

QUESTION: Can you elaborate more on the Arab states? You’ve talked about progress in UAE and Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia is still in the Tier 3. Are you considering imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Well, all countries that are on Tier 3, according to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of the year 2000 that created the office I direct and mandated the report, all countries in Tier 3 are subject to sanctions. The sanctions cannot be limitations on trade promotion assistance or humanitarian – purely humanitarian assistance.

Every year, approximately the 1st of September, a decision is made by the U.S. Government about whether to subject the countries under Tier 3 to full sanctions, or to use a full or partial waiver. And considerations are made about whether we’re going to advance our diplomacy with countries to actually get them to change on human trafficking, and our general national interests are taken into account.

And there are a number of times where we try and use this as a surgical tool, where, for instance, we feel that we could get cultural exchanges or democracy programs funded if we have a partial waiver. But I must say that I think we’ve gotten the attention of a number of the Persian Gulf states, and I think even more than the blunt words of the United States or potential sanctions, as a model that one sees in the region of the United Arab Emirates dealing with the problem of children as jockeys and then putting in place a law on human trafficking that it’s now using to prosecute sex traffickers and (inaudible) victims.

But you know, these countries care about the rankings. You know, I’ve seen the diplomats and officials of these countries in their capitals and here in Washington, and the prospect of moving up from Tier 3 to the Tier 2 Watch List and a reassessment that occurs in August for the Tier 3 countries, and the prospect of moving up in each year is something they very much care about.

QUESTION: Yes, I’d like to return to Mexico for a moment.

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You had commended Mexico on improving its efforts in human trafficking and you emphasized that one way to solve this problem that’s very important is to make sure that governments prosecute – or make arrests, prosecute and convict people for these crimes. I’ve been reporting on the State Department’s non-natural death report for 2005-2007, specifically the 128 homicides that have taken place in Mexico, and I have been unable to get information on exactly that from the State Department; in other words, the arrest, prosecution and conviction. Is it just trafficking that they follow up on, not – why wouldn't homicides or other events in sort of –

AMBASSADOR LAGON: A lot of violent crime, particularly connected to organized crime both in drugs and human trafficking, that persists in Mexico. It’s by no means a rosy situation in terms of law enforcement. I can’t speak specifically to that information, although I can try and help get that for you. But in Mexico, it’s the step of will that’s being shown, and the legislative branch and the executive branch coming together to pass a comprehensive law and some appearance that they intend to use that law. Because that is the key here. We see states that move up when they pass a comprehensive law, and then sometimes we see they don’t implement those laws. On some of those first steps I’ve been very impressed. The Attorney General Medina Mora, who has appointed Guadalupe Morfin as his point woman on human trafficking, I’ve spent some time with her at a UN conference on human trafficking, consulting about how she’ll attack this problem. I’m delighted to see the Mexican authorities are going to use appropriations from their legislature to take some mansions seized from drug traffickers and turn them into shelters for human trafficking victims.

In the back.

QUESTION: On Cuba, please. What are you doing on the situation of trafficking in Cuba, and what are you doing about (inaudible) under Raul Castro regime?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Well, there continues to be a problem for human trafficking in Cuba. Earlier, I was asked a question about Iran. This is also a situation in which the government is not exactly forthcoming to the United States about data. There are some efforts to raise awareness in Cuba for women who might fall into sex trafficking, and there are some efforts that the Cubans make in combination with British NGOs to try and deal with children who are, you know, sexually exploited. But in general, there seems to be denial and weak victim assistance, when it comes to human trafficking. One hopes there’ll be change in Cuba, but I don’t see evidence to date that the modest transition that has taken place politically in Cuba has changed the situation markedly.

Sir.

QUESTION: Yes. You said the Saudis are on Tier 3 since the beginning – the establishing of the report?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: They’ve been on Tier 3 for four years, is it? Yeah, about four years now.

QUESTION: You have been establishing the reports since the eight years. This is the eighth year, right?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Correct.

QUESTION: And the Saudis are in Tier 3 since the beginning?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: And the Saudis – I can – and by the way, a helpful addition to the report last year was a tracking chart. And in the profile of every country, it indicates every ranking it has received since the beginning. Saudi Arabia was Tier 3, 2001 and 2002. It came up to Tier 2, when there was no Tier 2 Watch List, both in 2003 and 2004. And since 2005, it has remained on Tier 3.

QUESTION: And why -- sorry.

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Go ahead. Were you going to ask me about the situation in Saudi Arabia?

QUESTION: No, I’m asking why, in your opinion, the U.S. is not succeeding in convincing the Saudis to do some improvements? I mean --

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Well, I think there’s a desperate need for women and foreigners, migrant laborers to be treated as human beings in full in Saudi Arabia, and that is part of the distinct problem there and in a number of the Gulf states. One case is really striking to me, the case of Nour Miyatis, an Indonesian domestic servant, a maid, who was grossly abused in Saudi Arabia. For four years, she’s been pursuing legal proceedings, not going home to Indonesia, but sticking it out. She’s trying to stick up for her rights under international law. And she had recently her case thrown out in Saudi Arabia. This is a woman who was locked for over a month in a closet by her employer. Her employer refused to treat her medical condition. She got gangrene in her fingers and toes and they had to be amputated. It’s pretty obvious.

QUESTION: Loss of her limbs?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Yeah, yeah. All fingers and toes. It’s emblematic. But there are a number of problems both of labor trafficking and victimization of women as well. But I hope to visit Saudi Arabia in the coming months and engage all the more.

QUESTION: Yeah, but why you are not succeeding, like you are succeeding in – with the Emirates? Why with the Saudis you are not --

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Well, I think it’s principally a question of political will on their part, but I’ll do mine in terms of serious, quiet dialogue.

Sir.

QUESTION: What are the countries that there are currently sanctions against and what are the nature of those sanctions as a result of this?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Well, of the Tier 3 countries from last year -- and my staff can help me recall all of them, if I miss some -- some of the countries that have full-scale sanctions include Burma, Cuba. There was actually, in the case of Iran and North Korea, partial sanctions so that some exchange programs or cultural programs or democracy-related assistance would not be blocked. A number of the countries had sanctions waived, from Malaysia that was on Tier 3 last year, has moved up to the Tier 2 Watch List, to this year, a number of countries again on Tier 3. Last year, a number of the Persian Gulf states, because of strategic relationships we have with governments and wanting to sustain dialogue on human trafficking and not having the door shut, had full waivers, based on a decision by the President of the United States.

Sir.

QUESTION: Regarding North Korean victims in northeastern China, Chinese Government (inaudible) seems to be -- provide the traffickers with the – what kind of leverage, as you said. So what special steps do you think is required?

AMBASSADOR LAGON: Well, I think one – one important place to start is for the Chinese authorities to see what they believe their moral and legal obligations are under migration treaties and human rights for the way they treat those who come to China. They’re treated legally in China -- that is to say, North Koreans who come there – as illegal economic migrants and are sent home. And this creates a double problem. For those who want to victimize North Koreans who come to China, all they have to do is threaten that we’re going to, you know, turn you over to the authorities and you’re going to get sent home. And so those victims find themselves coerced into doing, you know, the worst of things, including women who ostensibly have been bought and brought into marriage but, in fact, are sex slaves. But moreover, when they do get sent home, they are, you know, truly victimized; I mean, you’re a victim leaving North Korea, you’re victimized in human trafficking and then victimized and sent home. That’s a pretty gory situation. It demands the attention of the international community.

Anyone else?

I just want to say a word, if I can, about the effort that comes together before this report. It’s a momentous effort. We have tried – worked hard to get this annual report to come out at the same time as a report on U.S. efforts at home that the Department of Justice pulls together. So we can answer the question: Do you grade yourselves? Just yesterday, a report was delivered to Congress and it’s in synch with this, so that when we produce CD-ROMs for international distribution, there will be an assessment of what the United States is doing, including a self-critical set of recommendations.

This report would never come together without a team of reports officers who travel the globe and do their very best to get the most serious empirical data. That team is led by Mark Taylor. Much of the creativity of this report in raising themes is shaped by Mark Taylor and that team. And I also want to thank Eleanor Gaetan, our senior coordinator for public affairs who helped shape this report and it becoming, as I’ve learned going to UN meetings, a tremendous source of international public awareness. There is nothing like this report. This is not crowing; it’s just a fact. There is no NGO report and there is no UN report on human trafficking that makes this kind of assessment, and this has become more and more enlightening each year. I commend it to you. Thanks.

2008/459
Released on June 4, 2008

ENDS

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