The US Department of State recently released its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, arbitrarily and unscrupulously criticizing and smearing other countries, while listing the US among the “Tier 1”, the highest ranking, countries in the report despite its notorious record on human trafficking.
In the report of 600-plus pages, the US glosses over its own problems with less than half a page, showing symptoms of selective amnesia again. The fact is that human trafficking is not only a dark chapter of the US history, but a brutal reality in the country. The US is by no means eligible to act as a human rights preacher or judge.
The development of the US had a direct correlation with the bloody and atrocious slave trade, a sin that can never be whitewashed. The brutal transatlantic slave trade was the largest long-distance forced movement of people in history.
In 1619, the first recorded Africans were brought to Jamestown on the North American continent, which marked the beginning the tragic history of the enslavement of black people on this land. According to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, a total of more than 12.5 million Africans were trafficked to Americas between 1514 and 1866, not counting many who died on the way.
Slavery was still legal when the US became independent in 1776. Many of the late US presidents, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were slave owners. Even after the country announced the abolition of slavery in 1865, many of its southern states have enacted laws that enforced racial segregation or other discriminatory policies against black people.
To this day, the US is still troubled by systemic racial discrimination, which is one of the underlying causes of the social division in the country.
The US always makes indiscreet remarks about the human rights situation of other countries while turning a blind eye to the prominent problems of human trafficking and forced labor at home.
From the end of 2007 to the end of 2019, the US National Human Trafficking Hotline handled 63,380 cases of human trafficking, according to statistics from Polaris, a nonprofit organization committed to fighting sex and labor trafficking.
In 2019, the number of human trafficking cases reported to the US National Human Trafficking Hotline reached 11,500, involving 22,326 individual survivors, suggested data from Polaris, which also indicated that during the past five years, cases of forced labor and human trafficking were reported in all 50 states and Washington DC of the US.
“Shocking as these numbers are, they are likely only a fraction of the actual problem,” said the organization.
According to statistics released by US academic institutions, at least 500,000 people in the US have been subject to modern slavery and forced labor. The victims include both American citizens and foreign citizens from almost every region in the world, including vulnerable groups such as women, children and people with disabilities.
Slavery is still widespread in the US, but has simply taken on a new form, pointed out an American scholar.
Compared to the huge human trafficking industry in the US, the country’s endeavors to fight the crime seem feeble and futile.
Between July 2017 and June 2018, US Department of Justice found 8,913 potential and confirmed human trafficking victims, while almost during the same period, the US Department of State, Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security only investigated 2,183 cases and prosecuted 386 suspects, according to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in February.
Human trafficking was not deemed as illegal act and federal crime until the promulgation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, pointed out US media.
“Human trafficking is an epidemic in the US It’s also big business,” said American magazine Fortune.
The lucrative market of human trafficking in the US, a result of lax supervision, incomplete law and slack law enforcement, makes criminals and relevant interest groups repeatedly risk danger in desperation. Human trafficking industry keeps growing in the country.
Human trafficking is just the tip of the iceberg of the human rights problems in the US. In recent years, especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, white supremacy has resurged and ethnic minority groups, aborigines, refugees, and immigrants in the country have faced more prominent systemic discrimination.
Given its poor human rights record and the serious human rights violations suffered by the American people, how could the US even have the courage to meddle in the domestic affairs of other countries in the name of human rights?
Defaming others can’t make the US look better, but will only damage its own image. What the US should really do is to look back at the past mistakes it has made and truly address its human rights problems including human trafficking and forced labor, so as to realize racial justice and equality and make sure that the American people can truly share the “security, prosperity, and values” that US politicians keep boasting of.