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Egypt says US annual human trafficking report on govt efforts lacks credibility

Ahram Online , Wednesday 18 Nov 2015
Ahmed Elzend
Egypt's justice minister Ahmed Elzend (Al-Ahram)
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Egypt's justice ministry denounced in a statement on Wednesday the annual report  issued by the US Department of State on "Trafficking in Persons," describing it as lacking credible sources on actual efforts taken by the government to combat the problem.

The annual state department report, released in July, classifies countries in four different tiers – with tier one being the best and tier three the worst -- of addressing issues of human trafficking, sex trafficking, labour recruitment and the government's roles.

Classifying Egypt in tier two, the report claimed that "Egypt is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking."

"Egyptian children, including those among the estimated 200,000 to one million street children, are vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor in domestic service, begging, and agricultural work," the report read.

The justice ministry statement challenged the numbers reported by the US state department, saying that the number of street children in Egypt is much smaller than alleged. Citing statistics from the Egyptian National Council for Social and Criminal Research -- also a source for the state department report – the justice ministry said that the total number of homeless children in all of Egypt's is 16,000.

"The US state department report has totally turned a blind eye to all the efforts made by the Egyptian government towards the legislations that it has issued to criminalise human trafficking, prostitution; [the passage] of the child law, anti-money laundering law, labor law and the law regulating human organ transplants, and Law No. 64 of 2010 on combating and preventing the trafficking in human beings," the justice ministry report read.

While the state department report claimed that "the government of Egypt does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, however, the report said [Egypt] is making significant efforts to do so."

"Despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Egypt is placed on tier two," according the report.

The justice ministry also rejected state department claims that individuals from Arab gulf states -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait – purchase Egyptian women and girls for "temporary" or "summer" marriages with the purpose of prostitution.

The justice ministry described the claims as "untrue," adding that the report did not support its hypothesis with any statistics.  

In response to recommendations by the US state department for increased prosecutions and convictions of those facilitating any form of trafficking, and adequately punishing offenders, the justice ministry said that Egypt rejects any kind interference.

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