Tech fuels trafficking, Algeria, Egypt, and South Africa off watchlist

The United States Department of State released its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report on Monday, adding Brunei to its Tier 3 blacklist. 

This designation signifies countries failing to meet minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking. 

Brunei, a US partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has seen no convictions for traffickers in seven years. 

The report also criticized Brunei’s treatment of migrant workers, highlighting efforts to punish “runaway workers” rather than address potential abuse.

While Brunei faces sanctions or aid reductions, the report highlighted positive advancements in other countries. 

Algeria, previously on the blacklist, was removed due to a new anti-trafficking law and increased prosecutions. 

Egypt and South Africa also saw improvements, with Egypt doubling prosecutions and South Africa providing more victim shelters. 

Both nations were removed from the Tier 2 Watchlist, a category preceding potential downgrade to Tier 3.

Despite these advancements, Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the severity of the global issue. 

The report estimates 27 million people are victims of forced labor, sex trafficking, or forced services. 

Technology was identified as a growing concern, with traffickers exploiting online platforms and cyber scams to lure victims. 

However, Blinken also acknowledged the potential of technology to combat trafficking, citing efforts by non-governmental organizations utilizing artificial intelligence for detection purposes.

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