As many as 27 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, including sex trafficking, forced labor and the use of child soldiers, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of State.
"Despite the adoption of treaties and laws prohibiting slavery, the evidence nevertheless shows that many
men, women and children continue to live in modern-day slavery through the scourge of trafficking in persons," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says in the report.
The State Department lists 17 countries in “Tier 3,” the lowest ranking on the scale of human trafficking, for their failure to comply with the minimum standards stated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). A crisis-wrought Syria, which last week dropped 31 spots in the Global Peace Index, shares the ranking with 16 others, including Cuba, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Libya, the report showed.
"This report, which is being issued today, gives a clear and honest assessment of where all of us are making progress on our commitments and where we are either standing still or even sliding backwards. It takes a hard look at every government in the world, including our own," Clinton said when presenting the report.
The U.S. ranked among the highest-scoring countries in the ranking, along with Australia, South Korea, Iceland, Poland, Italy and Nicaragua, among others.
The presentation of the report was attended by Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, the Washington Post writes. Pinkett Smith did not speak at the event, but released a music video directed by actress Salma Hayek that addresses the issue of sex trafficking.
Photo: A landscape view dated May 2003 shows the Saharan desert in southern Algeria, near the city of Illizi. (HOCINE ZAOURAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Central African Republic
Children by the side of the road cheer as a convoy of troops from the Central African Republic, Uganda, U.S. Army special forces, and media, drives through Obo, Central African Republic, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Democratic Republic of Congo
Photo: A picture taken on June 17, 2003 shows a UPC (Union of Congolese Patriots) child fighter standing by a machine gun fixed on a pickup at a military camp in Bunia, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. (ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/GettyImages)
Photo: Back dropped by an image of Cuba's revolutionary hero Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and Cuba's national flag, faithful wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday March 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Photo: Kids play soccer in the Ela Nguema neighborhood of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Photo: A man leans on a tree in the disputed Horn of Africa border town of Badme between Ethiopia and Eritrea on November 5, 2008. (STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: Iranian women wave national flags and hold posters showing supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before Ahmadinejad's speech on the strategic Persian Gulf island of Abu Musa, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. (AP Photo/ISNA, Hamid Foroutan)
Photo: In this photo taken on Sunday, April 8, 2012, North Koreans stand in a field as they watch a train pass that was heading to North Phyongan Province, about 50 kilometers (35 miles) south of the border town of Sinuiju along North Korea's west coast. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Photo: A view of a desert camp with Kuwaiti flags flying in the wind during a severe dust storm in Rawdatein, 120 Km North of Kuwait City on Saturday, March 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Gustavo Ferrari)
Photo: Nasgb Abd, 20, a medicine student, has her face painted with the colors of the pre-Gaddafi flag during a demonstration against at the Green Square in Tripoli, Libya, late Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)
Photo: Madagascans wave the national flag during celebrations of the 50 years of independence in Antananarivo on June 26 2010. (GREGOIRE POURTIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Papua New Guinea
Photo: Villagers search the site of a landslide that struck villages in the Southern Highlands mountainous region of central Papua New Guinea, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Post-Courier)
Photo: The sun sets over an old Saudi archaeological palace in Al-Diriyah city on the northwestern outskirts of the Saudi capital Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, June 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Photo: Refugees from South Kordofan, in the Republic of Sudan, await distribution of basic goods in the Yida refugee camp in Unity State, South Sudan on Saturday May 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Pete Muller)
Photo: In this Tuesday, June 12, 2012 file photo, a Syrian revolutionary flag waves on top of a building on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra, File)
Photo: A Yemeni female protestor holds an infant with Yemen's flag painted on his face and Arabic writing that reads "Leave" during a demonstration demanding the resignation of of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)
Photo" Supporters of six Zimbabwean civic activists found guilty of conspiring to commit public violence in Harare, picket outside the Zimbabwean consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday March 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)