Portugal, Angola and Brazil among countries still failing to combat human trafficking

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Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde and Portugal appear on the annual U.S. list of countries that do not fully meet the standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, but are making significant efforts to comply with those standards.

These findings are contained in the Trafficking in Persons Report 2023, published today by the U.S. State Department, which divides countries into three categories and one subcategory, based on the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).

No country in the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) has been classified as “level 1”, i.e. countries whose governments fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking, which includes the USA itself, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Luxembourg and Guyana, among others.

Although “level 1″ is the highest rating, it does not mean that a country does not have a human trafficking problem, or that it is doing enough to combat this crime. On the contrary, a ‘level 1’ rating indicates that a government has made efforts that meet the TVPA’s minimum standards to tackle the problem,” explained the State Department.

At “level 2” are Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Portugal and East Timor, which the US authorities consider to be “countries whose governments do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to comply with those standards”.

Other countries at this level are the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRCongo), Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Israel, Italy, Mali, Switzerland, Rwanda, Sudan and Qatar, among others.

This is followed by the “Tier 2 Watch List” sub-category, aimed at states that are making efforts to combat human trafficking, but have a “very significant” number of victims of serious forms of trafficking, or fail to demonstrate increased efforts.

Mozambique is the only Portuguese-speaking country in this sub-category.

Finally, on the “black list” of countries with insufficient measures to combat human trafficking (“level 3”) are Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea, joining states such as Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

São Tomé e Príncipe is the only CPLP country not included in this US report, to which information from US embassies, government officials, non-governmental and international organizations, reports, press articles, academic studies and consultations with authorities and organizations from all regions of the world contributed.

“The United States is committed to combating human trafficking as an assault on human rights and freedoms,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the presentation of the Trafficking in Persons Report 2023.

The United States estimates that some 27 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking and forced labor, a phenomenon that primarily affects women, members of the LGBT (acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and ethnic and religious minorities.

Mr. Blinken also believes that the covid-19 pandemic has made it easier to exploit the workforce by interrupting production lines in several industries.

He also warned that human traffickers are increasingly using the internet to recruit their victims, who are becoming younger and younger.

The US Secretary of State also highlighted positive cases, such as the opening of a hotline in Hong Kong to help victims, or the increase in the Danish budget to combat trafficking.

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