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Malaysia, which was on a "special watch list" last year, was added today to a Washington blacklist of countries trafficking in people, the State Department said.
Other countries included this year to the black list in the "Trafficking in Persons Report".
were Algeria, Guinea, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar .
These seven countries join Myanmar, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan and Venezuela in the dreaded 'Tier 3' ie the worst offenders in human trafficking.
Most of this year's additions to "Tier 3" are Muslim or predominantly Muslim nations, many of which have the means to enforce foreign workers' rights and anti-trafficking laws.
The Report (click here to read) analysed efforts in about 150 countries to combat trafficking for forced labor, prostitution, military service and other purposes.
Being on the blacklist, they could face sanctions, including withholding by the United States of non-humanitarian, non-trade related foreign aid.
Malaysia made its first appearance on "Tier 3" for its failure to protect and identify victims of trafficking, many of them Indonesian domestics.
"The Malaysian government needs to demonstrate stronger political will to tackle Malaysia's significant forced labor and sex trafficking problems," the report said
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.
US government research shows 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders, about 80 pct of them women and girls and up to half of them minors, the State Department said.
The majority of victims are females trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation, it said.
Belize, Laos and Zimbabwe were removed from the blacklist this year.
Singapore, which had been in the Tier 1 list, was relegated to Tier 2 this year.
"Tier 2" countries are those that do not fully comply with minimum standards but are making significant efforts to do so.
Countries with "Tier 3" ranking "do not fully comply with the minimum standards (to fight trafficking) and are not making significant efforts to do so," which makes them eligible for U.S. economic sanctions.
Three countries that had been placed on "Tier 3" in 2006 — Belize, Laos and Zimbabwe — were promoted to "Tier 2" this year for improving their records, according to the report.
The recognition is rare U.S. praise for Zimbabwe, long singled out by Washington for harsh criticism on its overall human rights record, a point noted by Rice's pointman on the trafficking issue, Mark Lagon.
The complete list of "Tier 3" countries in this year's report is: Algeria, Bahrain, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, Myanmar, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.