Dear Friends in the Movement to End Modern-day Slavery:
As you are aware, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered the 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report to Congress in June. The law governing the US Government's anti-trafficking efforts provides a 90-day reassessment period after the report's release, allowing time for countries rated in the lowest tier of the report to take steps to move out of Tier 3. (Tier 3 countries are those making little or no efforts to combat trafficking in persons.) The goal of this reassessment period is to stimulate action in the fight against modern-day slavery. I am pleased to report that Belize and Laos have taken real steps in the last 90 days against this global pandemic.
Examples of their actions include arresting and charging traffickers, sheltering victims, launching a nationwide awareness campaign, and training immigration officers to recognize victims. Due to this progress, President Bush has notified Congress that these countries will effectively move out of Tier 3 in accordance with the determination of the Secretary of State.
Unfortunately, other countries did not demonstrate significant efforts to combat trafficking in persons and will remain in Tier 3. We continue to encourage Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe to end modern-day slavery.
As outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, foreign governments that do not meet the minimum standards for action in fighting modern-day slavery are subject to non-humanitarian, non-trade related sanctions. While various sanctions will be applied to Tier 3 countries, the President has determined it is in the national interest of the U.S. to waive sanctions for Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan. This waiver will allow the funding of democracy and nation building programs, as well as continued security cooperation to effectively prosecute the war on terror.
The waiver will not deter our continued aggressive bilateral engagement with these countries to encourage them to better address the issue of trafficking in persons.
In addition, we are concerned about three countries - India, Mexico, and Russia - that are on the Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year. We are encouraging India's government to acknowledge and address its substantial bonded or forced labor problem that enslaves millions of men, women and children - largely from low-caste communities - in labor-intensive industries in rural areas. We are working with Mexico's government to build a credible response to its serious problem of corruption among security personnel, which facilitates trafficking. With the Russian government we are working to foster legislative reform, raise public awareness, improve collaboration between the public and law enforcement, and enhance victim assistance.
We appreciate your continued interest in this important issue and we value your partnership.
Ambassador John R. Miller
Director, Office to Monitor and Combat
Trafficking in Persons
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