US Hits 17 Nations For Not Combating Human Trafficking

July 25, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Thursday designated 17 countries as not doing enough to combat human trafficking and warned them of potential U.S. sanctions. The administration also called out several U.S. allies and friends, including Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal and Turkey, for backsliding in their efforts.

The report classified the 17 mostly authoritarian nations as “Tier 3” for failing to meet minimal standards to stop what Secretary of State Antony Blinken called an “inhumane cycle of discrimination and injustices.” The designation means that without a presidential waiver those countries could lose some U.S. assistance, although decisions on such penalties will not be made until later this year.

“It’s a global crisis, it’s an enormous source of human suffering,” Blinken said, citing estimates that almost 25 million people, many of them women and children, are victims. “This crime is an affront to human rights. It’s an affront to human dignity.”

Newcomers to the Tier 3 category are Malaysia and Guinea-Bissau, both of which had been on a watchlist for a downgrade for three years and were ineligible to avoid the designation because they had failed to take steps to improve their anti-human trafficking efforts.

They join Afghanistan, Algeria, Burma, China, Comoros, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, South Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan and Venezuela in the worst offender category. Most of those countries are already subject to U.S. sanctions for other reasons.

Read the full story by Matthew Lee on ABC News.