Washington: After a gap of six years, the United States has taken India off the human trafficking 'Watch List' for making significant efforts in combating the menace.

In its annual Trafficking in Persons report, the State Department has upgraded India to Tier 2 countries after keeping it on a 'Watch List' for six years.

The Watch List is for those countries where the number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing and there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat it.

Tier 2 is for those countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act's (TVPA) but are making significant efforts in this regard.

"The Government of India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so," the State Department said in its report justifying its decision to upgrade India's position.

The report analysed conditions in 184 countries and ranked them in terms of their effectiveness in fighting the human trafficking.

It has identified 23 nations as failing to meet minimum international standards to curb the scourge, which claims mainly women and children as victims. That's up from 13 in 2010. Another 41 countries were placed on the "watch list" that could lead to sanctions unless their records improve.

"All countries can and must do more," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said while releasing the report.

"More human beings are being exploited today than ever before. The Ministry of Home Affairs' launched the government's 'Comprehensive Scheme for Strengthening Law Enforcement Response in India', which seeks to improve India's overall law enforcement response to all forms of trafficking, including bonded labor, and established at least 87 new Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs)," the State Department said.

As such it recommended the central and state government law enforcement capacity to fight against all forms of human trafficking; work towards ensuring that national legislation prohibits and punishes all forms of human trafficking; and increase intrastate and interstate investigations, prosecutions, and convictions on all forms of trafficking, including bonded labor, the report said.

"India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The forced labor of millions of its citizens constitutes India's largest trafficking problem; men, women, and children in debt bondage are forced to work in industries such as brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories," the report said.

It added that women and girls are trafficked within the country for the purposes of forced prostitution. Religious pilgrimage centers and cities popular for tourism continue to be vulnerable to child sex tourism.

Indian nationals engage in child sex tourism within the country and, to a lesser extent, in other countries.

Sex trafficking in some large cities continued to move from red light areas to road side small hotels, and private apartments. Women and girls from Nepal and Bangladesh are also subjected to sex trafficking in India. Maoist armed groups known as the Naxalites forcibly recruited children into their ranks," the report added.

The State Department also removed Sri Lanka and Fiji from its watch list. Among the countries on the blacklist are Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Eritrea, Libya, Zimbabwe, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

(Agencies)