TALLINN - The United States, on June 27, put Estonia and Belarus on a human trafficking watchlist, alleging they failed in the last year to step up efforts to fight prostitution and forced labor, reports AFP. In its 2011 annual Global Trafficking in Persons Report, the State Department also kept Russia on the list for the eighth consecutive year, for the same alleged failures.
“Estonia is a source, transit and destination country for women subjected to forced prostitution, and for men and women subjected to conditions of forced labor,” the State Department said. “Not only are Estonian women from the countryside forced into prostitution in the capital, Tallinn, they also end up in the sex trafficking trade in Finland, the Netherlands, Britain, Germany and Italy,” it said.
Both men and women from Estonia are also “subjected to conditions of forced labor” in Spain, Sweden, Norway, and Finland, according to the report.
“The government of Estonia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so,” the report said. “Despite these efforts, the government did not demonstrate evidence of increasing efforts over the previous reporting period,” it added, placing Estonia on the Tier 2 watchlist.
The countries reviewed in the report are grouped in three tiers. Tier 1 countries fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Tier 2 countries do not fully comply with these standards but make efforts to do so.
Tier 2 has two subgroups, and Latvia is in the higher group, whereas Estonia has dropped to the Tier 2 watchlist. Tier 3 countries do not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and make no effort to do so.
The report’s section on Latvia says women from Latvia are forced into prostitution in Italy, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Netherlands and Germany. Men and women from Latvia are subjected to conditions of forced labor in Great Britain and reportedly in Sweden.
Although the situation in Latvia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the Latvian government is making significant efforts to achieve this, says the report.
The report notes obvious improvements for the elimination of trafficking in Latvia last year, especially regarding cooperation among ministries and authorities.