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US says Slovakia short in trafficking fight

THE FOURTH annual Trafficking in Persons Report, released by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, has assessed Slovakia as a second tier group - a country that does not meet the minimum requirements to eliminate human trafficking but "is making significant efforts" to do so. Slovakia is a transit and source country for trafficked victims, according to the report.

According to the news wire SITA, the report notes that Slovakia lags behind in the protection of victims and prevention, which may be ascribed to insufficient funding.

Victims and potential witnesses distrust the police, as they are often deported as illegal immigrants, adds the report.

The report does point to improvements: Last year, Slovak police arrested human traffickers who had been working with six trafficking networks. The authorities also solved three cases of child trafficking and 54 cases of individual traffickers.

"At the beginning of 2004, the Interior Ministry increased the size of the police anti-trafficking unit and elevated the unit to a department," states the report.

The report monitors human trafficking in 140 countries worldwide and is the most complete information source on trafficking. Across international borders, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked annually - 80 percent are women. Of those women, 70 percent are sexually exploited, according to the report. Some non-governmental groups place the total number of trafficked people as much higher.

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