Wrong List

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2007 (AFP) – US Middle East allies Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, as well as key trading partner Malaysia were added Tuesday to a Washington blacklist of countries trafficking in people. Algeria and Guinea were the other additions to the blacklist of the US State Department’s annual “Trafficking in Persons Report,” which analyzed efforts in about 164 countries to combat trafficking for forced labor, prostitution, military service and other purposes.

The seven countries, all of whom were on a special watch list last year, join Myanmar, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan and Venezuela in the dreaded “Tier 3” list as the worst offenders of human trafficking.

Being on the blacklist, they could face sanctions, including the withholding by the United States of non-humanitarian, non-trade related foreign aid.

Countries that receive no such foreign assistance would be subject to withholding of funding for participation by government officials in educational and cultural exchange programs.

Launching the 236-page report, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cited “disturbing evidence” that prosecution of human trafficking cases had leveled off across