(CNSNews.com) - By not condemning Germany and the Netherlands in its second annual "Trafficking in Persons Report," the U.S. State Department is giving tacit approval for prostitution, which both of those countries legalized this year, conservatives charged.
"By legalizing prostitution, these governments have institutionalized the exploitation of women," said Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.). "This is unconscionable, and should be condemned by our government and by all civilized people."
Far from condemning Germany and the Netherlands, the State Department gave these countries a "Tier 1" ranking, which is assigned to countries designated to be complying fully with international efforts to prevent the practice of forced transport of people across international borders to engage in prostitution.
"Just because prostitution is labeled the oldest profession in the world, this doesn't allow the State Department to let it become an acceptable profession in the international community," said Janice Crouse, a spokeswoman for the Beverly LaHaye Institute in Washington.
"If the State Department gives a passing grade to the worst offenders, then it has nullified congressional intent and spoiled a historic opportunity to improve human rights around the world," Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America, said in a letter to the State Department.
Between 700,000 and 4 million persons throughout the world, most of them women and children, are transported and held against their will through fraud, coercion and kidnapping, Secretary of State Colin Powell said on presenting the report.
The United States is home to 50,000 so-called "trafficked" persons, he said at a press conference.
"Here and abroad, the victims of trafficking toil under inhuman conditions, in brothels, sweatshops, fields, and even in private homes," Powell said.
"The annual Trafficking in Persons Report shines a much-needed light on this global problem. We use the information that we collect to bolster the will of the international community to combat this unconscionable crime," he added.
The United States is ready to assist countries to design programs to address the problem, but will impose sanctions on countries that don't make an effort, beginning next year, Powell said.
Ambassador Nancy Ely-Raphel, an advisor to Powell, said possible sanctions could involve non-humanitarian and non-trade-related sanctions and directions in the international financial institutions to vote against loans in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
To compile this document, which reports on 89 countries, information was gathered from 186 U.S. embassies and consulates, among other sources, including non-governmental organizations and media reports, Ely-Raphel said.
This year, 89 countries are listed as follows: 18 countries in Tier 1, 52 countries on Tier 2 and 19 countries in Tier 3. The last or third tier identifies countries that neither fully comply with the minimum standards, nor are making significant efforts to do so.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), co-chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and author of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Law, said he was pleased that more than a dozen countries given poor or fair rankings last year improved their behavior and policies to such a degree so as to earn a passing grade.
"But much more needs to be done," Smith said in a statement. "The sheer number of people trafficked each year - between 700,000 and 4 million people - is ample evidence that modern day slavery is still a massive humanitarian crisis that we must stop."
Tier 3 countries are Afghanistan, Armenia, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia, Cambodia, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Myanmar, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
The Tier 2 countries are Albania, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Latvia, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam and Yugoslavia.
The 18 Tier 1 countries are Austria, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
E-mail a news tip to Lawrence Morahan.
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