Washington: The United States says that India has the world’s largest human trafficking problem.
For the fourth consecutive year, India was warned that they could be added to a blacklist of countries deemed not meeting minimum standards in fighting what it called the scourge of “modern-day slavery.”
The report put India and 31 other countries on its “Tier 2 watch list” status, warning them that without improvements they could be demoted to a “Tier 3,” making them subject to sanctions.
The report cited estimates that tens of millions of Indians were subjected to forced labor and said sex trafficking also continues to be common.
“The world’s largest democracy has the world’s largest problem of human trafficking,” said the department’s specialist on the trafficking issue, Mark Lagon.
The report said India had taken some steps to deal with sex trafficking, but the government failed to take any significant action against bonded labor. Following the release, the State Department came under criticism for failing to blacklist India for persistently landing on the watch list.
“The TIP reports says India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for elimination of trafficking,” said Republican Rep. Chris Smith. “Yet India remains on the watch list instead of being on Tier 3.”
Lagon acknowledged that the broader relationship with the U.S. ally was taken into account.
“I would be perpetuating a fraud to say that we don’t look at multiple factors in our relationship with countries any time we take a step on a particular issue like human trafficking,” he said.