From Reuters via CNN with thanks to Two Stellas.
WASHINGTON — The United States criticized four Gulf Arab allies as some of the world’s worst offenders in permitting human trafficking Friday in a rebuke Washington hopes will promote improved human rights in the Middle East.
The State Department downgraded Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to the lowest level of compliance in the report, which evaluates countries’ efforts in fighting the trafficking of thousands of people forced into servitude or the sex trade every year.
Victims in the region were mainly domestic servants and laborers but also included boy camel jockeys, according to the report.
It cited the case of a 17-year-old orphan, Lusa, kidnapped from Uzbekistan and was sold into a slavery ring in UAE. She was eventually “no longer usable” as a prostitute and the emirates’ immigration service said she should serve a two-year prison sentence for entering the country illegally.
Officials from the Gulf countries were not immediately available to comment on the one-step downgrade, which ranks them with such countries as Burma, North Korea and Sudan.
“This report shows that in this administration we will not pull our punches even with our friends. We appreciate their cooperation in other areas but they just don’t have a good track record fighting this,” a State Department official said on condition of anonymity…