US lauds Israel for efforts in combating trafficking

Israel receives "Tier 1" ranking for second year in a row; state department report notes issue of African refugees.

June 20, 2013 08:46
2 minute read.
Prostitute [illustrative]

Prostitute hooker street walker 390 (R). (photo credit: Edgard Garrido / Reuters)

Israel, for the second year in a row received a Tier 1 ranking for its efforts to prevent human trafficking, prosecute offenders and protect victims, according to this year’s US State Department report on human trafficking, released on Wednesday afternoon by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

From the legislative level down to nonprofit organizations working with victims of sex and labor trafficking to Israel, the annual Trafficking in Persons report commended the country’s efforts to tackle the problem, including prevention and treatment for the victims.

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The report lauded Israel for its “law enforcement against sex and labor trafficking, improved identification of trafficking victims, and government- funded shelters for victims.”

“This report places Israel among the upper echelon of countries that are combating modern slavery,” Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told Israel Radio.

“Nonetheless we ought to remember that the traffickers are growing more sophisticated and they continue to sell women who are raped, beaten, and starved. As such, we need to continue pouring in resources to prevent and deter these crimes and to care for the victims,” she said.

Meretz leader Zehava Galon welcomed the findings but said there was still a lot of work to be done to combat human trafficking.

“In spite of the good news, human trafficking still exists in Israel and we must continue to fight against it until it is totally eradicated,” Gal-on stated.

US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro also applauded the government for “continuing to focus on eliminating the scourge of modern day slavery.”

“Israel has taken an all-of government approach to tackling this global phenomenon, including legislative action in the Knesset, police training, and providing shelters and services for trafficking victims,” he said.

However, the report also identified areas for improvement, including imposing stricter sentences for convicted trafficking offenders, improving enforcement of foreign worker’s labor rights and increasing investigation of forced prostitution of Israelis.

It cited the Knesset Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women and the anti-trafficking unit in the Justice Ministry among the mechanisms put in place to prevent the smuggling of foreign workers, primarily from the Sinai Peninsula, and the exploitation of non-Israeli laborers.

“The anti-trafficking unit within the Justice Ministry continued to hold meetings with government ministries, NGOs, and the Knesset, as well as conduct training, research trafficking trends and coordinate Israel’s response to the vulnerable group of migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers arriving from the Sinai,” the report stated.

According to the report, the hundreds of victims’ testimonies have been collected in Israel, documenting African migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers entering the country irregularly from Sinai “Although the numbers of migrants arriving irregularly in Israel has decreased significantly...

abuses committed in Egypt against this vulnerable group of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers –some of whom are the victims of trafficking – continue to increase,” the report stated.

NGOs have noted that conditions in detention centers are substandard, citing a lack of access to medical, legal, and social services.

The TIP report is the most comprehensive worldwide study on the efforts of governments to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons, and its assessments are based on material collected from local government and nongovernment organizations.

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