U.S. Removes Saudi Arabia From List of Worst Human Traffickers

The United States has removed key ally Saudi Arabia from its list of the worst offenders on human trafficking after just a year, CNN reported.

The State Department’s 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report said the country had made “key achievements” in the last 12 months. It implemented its first ever national referral mechanism to provide care to victims of trafficking and the government transparently reported data sets, including increased prosecutions and convictions under its anti-trafficking law, according to the report.

It also said that Saudi authorities had “criminally convicted and sentenced to stringent imprisonment terms two Saudi officials complicit in trafficking crimes during the year.”

As a result, the country was moved from Tier 3 to Tier 2 — but the report said the Saudis still need to make additional reforms to combat trafficking.
Tier 2 countries are not subject to any potential consequences from the US, as the report says they are “making significant efforts” to get into compliance with US standards for combating trafficking.

Tier 3 countries, however, may face cuts to “non-humanitarian, non-trade related foreign assistance” and to “government official or employee participation in educational and cultural exchange programs,” the report states.

Saudi Arabia was one of five countries removed from the list of worst offenders. The others are Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gambia.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the report at the State Department on Thursday alongside White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump. He did not mention the progress made by Saudi Arabia but did point out that 22 countries had improved their statuses, with 13 of those coming from sub-Saharan Africa.

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