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US To Deny Aid Under Anti-Trafficking Act

U.S. To Deny Aid to Five Countries Under Anti-Trafficking Act

Burma, Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela still allow human trafficking

By Jane Morse
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The White House has determined Burma, Cambodia, Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Venezuela should be sanctioned under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000.

In a memorandum to the secretary of state, President Bush directed that the United States deny assistance -- ranging from participation in educational and cultural exchange programs to certain nonhumanitarian, nontrade-related funding -- to these five countries until their governments comply with the act's minimum standards to combat trafficking or make significant efforts to do so.

The TVPA, enacted on October 28, 2000, is the most comprehensive U.S. law to address the various aspects of trafficking in persons both internationally and domestically. It establishes measures to prevent trafficking, protect its victims and prosecute those accountable for trafficking.

The United States has condemned human trafficking as a form of slavery and an affront to the principles of human dignity and liberty. In remarks to the National Training Conference on Human Trafficking in July 2004, Bush said: "Human life is the gift of our Creator -- and it should never be for sale."

Experts estimate up to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. The United States government is at the forefront in battling this scourge. In 2004 alone, the United States provided more than $96 million in foreign aid to help other countries strengthen their anti-trafficking efforts via tougher legislation, special law enforcement units and emergency shelter and rehabilitation programs.

Each year, the U.S. Department of State evaluates foreign governments on their efforts to fight human trafficking and produces a report based on information from American diplomats as well as nongovernmental organizations and other groups. The report covering the year 2004, released in June 2005, examined 150 nations.

Countries are divided into three groups, or tiers. Tier One means that a country fully meets the requirements of the TVPA. Tier Two countries do not meet the standards fully, but are working to improve. Tier Three countries face possible restrictions in American aid or other measures.

For 2005, the United States identified 14 Tier Three countries: Bolivia, Burma, Cambodia, Cuba, Ecuador, Jamaica, Kuwait, North Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Togo, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

According to the White House memorandum to the secretary of state, six of the 14 Tier Three countries since have taken actions that averted the need for the president to make a determination regarding sanctions and waivers: Bolivia, Jamaica, Qatar, Sudan, Togo and the United Arab Emirates. These countries have been placed on the "Special Watch List" and will be re-evaluated in six months.

Ecuador, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are also on the Tier Three list for not complying with the TVPA's minimum standards, but they have received presidential waivers for sanctions "in the national interest of the United States." Those countries will be reassessed within six months.

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