US adds Russia and its allies to the list of countries sponsoring human trafficking – State Department

Lilia RagutskaWorld
Occupants commit crimes against Ukrainian children. Source: from open sources

The United States of America has added Russia and Belarus to the list of countries sponsoring human trafficking. In total, the list published as part of the 2024 Trafficking in Persons Report includes 13 countries with documented evidence of participation in such a serious crime.

This was stated by the press service of the US State Department. As for Russia, the authors of the report are particularly concerned about the fact that the Russian occupiers use children for military purposes: the invaders use them as human shields, turn them into informants, or force them to perform military service.

The U.S. government's website published a report on human trafficking in the world for 2024, compiled by experts from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. It names the countries that practice such shameful crimes.

"The report covers the following 13 countries that have documented a 'policy or pattern' of human trafficking, trafficking in persons within government-funded programs, forced labor in government-related health services or other sectors, sexual slavery in government camps, and the employment or recruitment of child soldiers," the report says.

The list includes Russia and Belarus. "They were joined by such states as:

  • Afghanistan;
  • Burma;
  • China;
  • Cuba;
  • Eritrea;
  • Iran;
  • DPRK;
  • South Sudan;
  • Sudan;
  • Syria;
  • Turkmenistan.

At the same time, the United States has noted a number of disturbing trends in Russia. This was emphasized during the briefing by the Ambassador-at-Large for Monitoring and Combating Trafficking in Persons, Cindy Dyer, who presented the report.

"We are tracking a number of disturbing trends in the case of Russia that are cause for concern. Obviously, one of them is Russia's war against Ukraine and the greater vulnerability of refugees fleeing this war, especially women and children. This is something that we are paying particular attention to in the human trafficking report," she said.

According to Dyer, the State Department is implementing programs to help Ukraine counter the threats posed by human trafficking in the world. The same assistance is also provided to Eastern European countries, which host a significant number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.

The State Department is particularly concerned about the treatment of children by the Russian occupiers in Ukraine.

"We are also closely monitoring Russian troops, including the use of children for military purposes in Ukraine. We have noticed that there are reports that children are being forced to perform military duty, as well as to serve as informants and human shields," said the US Ambassador-at-Large for Monitoring and Combating Trafficking in Persons.

According to her, all Ukrainian children abducted by Russia are at "extreme risk of human trafficking," so they should all return to their homeland, to their families.

In addition, the State Department considers Russia's recruitment of mercenaries for the war against Ukraine, which the aggressor state is looking for in other countries, using coercion, deception, and sometimes force, to be a serious problem.

"Reports indicate that the Russian authorities, their intermediaries, private military companies, and forces affiliated with Russia are using coercion, deception and possibly force to recruit foreign nationals. We know that many countries have actually stopped issuing visas, so their citizens can't even travel to Russia because of this particular issue," Dyer said.

The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, reacted to the inclusion of Russia and Belarus in the list of countries sponsoring human trafficking. He emphasized that the fact that Russia systematically commits such crimes is not surprising. After all, the aggressor state has been violating human rights in Ukraine for 10 years, since the beginning of the war against Ukraine in 2014.

"However, such lists, condemnation of Russia's actions by other states, may eventually have a powerful result in stopping crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice," he emphasized.

Earlier that day, on June 25, it became known that the International Criminal Court had issued arrest warrants for Shoigu and Gerasimov, who are charged with attacks on civilians, civilian objects, and Ukraine's energy sector. Both Russian officials, according to the ICC, are individually responsible for these war crimes committed by their subordinates.

In addition, it was reported that Ukraine won a case against Russia over Crimea in the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR recognized that the Ukrainian government had proven the existence of systematic violations of the rights of Ukrainian citizens since the beginning of the occupation of Crimea in February 2014.

The ECHR judges unanimously found that Russia implements administrative practices of ill-treatment and illegal detention of people, illegal dissemination of Russian legislation, forced change of Ukrainian citizenship to Russian, systematic mass searches, and forced transfer of convicts to the territory of the Russian Federation.

It was also proved in court that Russia is attacking and persecuting religious leaders who do not belong to the Russian Orthodox Church on the Crimean peninsula, and closing down non-Russian media, including Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar TV channels. Constant harassment and attacks on journalists bans on peaceful gatherings and protests, attacks and persecution of their organizers, and expropriation of private property have also become a daily reality in occupied Crimea.

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