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Countries Struggling with Human Trafficking Urged to Adopt US Suggestions

John Miller, the U.S. State Department’s top official for combating human trafficking, said Thursday at a Congressional hearing that countries struggling to confront that growing global problem must adhere to suggestions put forward by the U.S., or risk harsh consequences. He was responding to tough questions from members of the House of Representatives, several of whom said they wanted Miller’s office to do more.

Loretta Sanchez, a member of the House of Representatives from Orange County, California, said it must be asked ‘what allows human trafficking to flourish?,’ and then firm actions must be taken to address the specific problems and loopholes to protect vulnerable men, women and children, the usual victims of human trafficking. She indicated that countries which do not take effective measures to combat the exploitation of poor people by profiteers should face sanctions by the U.S. government.

Thelma Drake, a member of the House from Virginia, declared that she would not spend even a dollar for a vacation in any of the countries with documented human trafficking problems. She said an international campaign warning tourists not to visit nations with poor track records on human trafficking should be started.

The State Department’s 2006 report on human trafficking was released last month. It announced that Cambodia had been promoted to Tier Two Watchlist, from Tier 3, where it was ranked in 2005 along with the world’s worst human trafficking violators. However, Miller has said that Cambodia has not yet reached minimum standard of prevention of human trafficking and must do more, or face a drop down in 2007.

The Cambodian government is determined to improve the situation and does not worry about the comments by U.S. congressmen and women. Ek Sereywath, Cambodian Ambassador to the U.S., said this week that the members of congress are merely reiterating a long-standing message that the Cambodian government already knows well: that it must take additional action to suppress human trafficking networks.

The U.S. imposed partial sanctions against Cambodia in 2005 for the Cambodian government’s poor record against human trafficking. U.S. officials have urged the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen to take effective measures to prevent the human trafficking and to bring human traffickers to justice.