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16 June 2010

Philippines remains on US human-trafficking list

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The Philippines continues to be on the US watchlist on human trafficking, which is described as a modern-day version of slavery that victimizes some 12.3 million people, most of them children and women, the Manila Times reprts. For the second consecutive year, the country was placed under Tier 2 watchlist or countries that do not fully comply with the standards set forth by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of the United Nations.

Some countries are placed under the Tier 2 watchlist because the number of victims is “very significant or is significantly increasing,” or because of failure of governments to demonstrate improving efforts to curb human trafficking in their jurisdictions.”

The latest annual report on human trafficking estimates that 12.3 million adults and children are in forced labor, bonded labor and forced prostitution around the world and that 56 percent of these victims are women and girls.

It said that human trafficking is big business—an illicit global enterprise that in 2010 is estimated to be worth $32 billion.

US State Undersecretary Maria Otero acknowledged that the Philippines has taken steps to improve its campaign against human trafficking but these steps were not quite enough.

Otero stressed that human trafficking is like slavery, which she described as “the most extreme form of depriving a person of the ability to pursue his or her God-given potential.”

In its “country narratives,” the US report was very critical of the Philippines in all areas monitored: prevention, protection and prosecution.

The report noted that women were subjected to sex trafficking in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and various Middle Eastern countries.

“Women and children were trafficked internally for forced labor as domestic workers, small-scale factory workers, beggars and for exploitation in the commercial sex industry,” it said.

“Traffickers, in partnership with organized crime syndicates and complicit law enforcement officers, regularly operate through local recruiters sent to villages and urban neighborhoods to recruit family and friends, often masquerading as representatives of government-registered employment agencies.”

Moreover, the report said that child-sex tourism remained a serious problem in the Philippines, with sex tourists coming from Northeast Asia, Australia, Europe and North America to engage in the commercial and sexual exploitation of children.

Filipino migrant workers, a major source of foreign exchange for the country, were “often subject to violence, threats, inhumane living conditions, non-payment of salaries and withholding of travel and identity documents,” it added.

A major hindrance, the report said, was “widespread corruption” and “an inefficient judicial system” that severely limits prevention and prosecution of cases.


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