South Sudan is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, according to a report by the US State Department.
The Trafficking in Persons report ranked South Sudan the lowest, among countries that does not have substantive government effort to combat trafficking and child soldiering.
It also says the government failed to take action on any of the recommended steps from last year’s action plan.
The Traffic in Persons report sometimes referred to as “modern slavery,” report highlights on human trafficking as a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor, a commercial sex act, domestic servitude, and also child soldiering worldwide.
This year, it noted that South Sudanese women and girls are vulnerable to domestic servitude in Yei, Bor, Wau, Torit, Nimule, Juba, and elsewhere in the country.
It says South Sudanese girls, some as young as 9 and 10 years old, are forced into marriages, while others are subjected to sex trafficking in restaurants, hotels, and brothels in urban centers—at times with the involvement of corrupt law enforcement officials.
It also notes that children working in construction places, market vending, shoe shining, car washing, rock breaking, brick making, delivery cart pulling, and begging may be victims of forced labor.
Women and girls from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Democratic Republic of the Congo migrate willingly to South Sudan with the promise of legitimate work and are subjected to sex trafficking.
The government of South Sudan is said to have made minimal efforts to protect trafficking victims and, at times, law enforcement efforts were harmful to victims.
Ambassador-At-Large Susan Coppedge, the head of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, says over 20 million people are subjects of human trafficking.
She said each government is required to enact and implement laws that hold human traffickers accountable.
“Among the areas for improvement highlighted are the need to; increase protection for domestic workers, to root out corrupt and complicit officials – who are themselves engaged in, or benefiting from trafficking,” Amb Coppedge stated.
She said the Trafficking in Persons Report is the product of a yearlong effort requiring contributions and follow-up from host country governments, civil society employees and employees of U.S diplomatic outposts across the globe.
188 Countries were analyzed this year. South Sudan was among the 27 countries placed in Tier 3 for failing to make significant anti-human trafficking efforts since 2015.
The U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry, told the press that the report is not meant to condemn any government, but to highlight on the need for better legislations.
“This is not meant to be a darning report, it is meant to be a demarcation, encouragement process, the process of evaluation, and work towards changing rankings,” Mr Kerry said.
“One of the things that I have found is that we can always become more effective by working with the true experts. Those experts are also all of the survivors.”
The report was first published in 2001, and has prompted foreign governments to enact legislation, establish national action plans, and implement anti-trafficking policies and programs
A statement by the US embassy in Juba says that the leaders of the Transitional Government of National Unity to join the global campaign against human trafficking by seriously reviewing the new 2016-2017 action plan and taking action to address the issue.
The statement says concrete steps such as the immediate release of all child soldiers as agreed to by the warring parties in the peace agreement should allow for the enactment of the Labor Act.
The embassy urges South Sudan to assent to the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, and the need for cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the NGOs in providing support victims.
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