Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that American criticism of his country's failure to stop human trafficking was unfair, especially given the mistreatment of some illegal immigrants in the U.S.
The U.S. State Department released a report Monday that included Saudi Arabia on a list of 12 nations that risk sanctions for not adequately fighting human trafficking.
"We think that we have moved forward quite a considerable distance. We were hoping there would be a reflection of that movement in this report," Prince Turki al-Faisal told The Associated Press following a speech to Nashville business leaders.
The report tracks the modern-day slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers. Saudi Arabia was the only major U.S. ally on the list of 12 nations.
Al-Faisal said Saudi Arabia has imposed regulations to control mistreatment of servants and employees, prosecuted those accused of mistreatment and opened shelters for victims.
The ambassador said the report could have noted that some illegal workers are mistreated in the United States.
"We read in American media and the press about the mistreatment of illegals who come to (the United States) seeking work and end up in brothels and gangs and unacceptable servitude, whether in factories or at farms, and yet that is not mentioned in the State Department report," al-Faisal said.
At a briefing on the 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denounced "the sordid trade in human beings" and said the fight against trafficking is "a great moral calling of our time."
As many as 800,000 people are bought and sold across national borders annually or lured to other countries with false promises of work or other benefits, the State Department said in the report. Most are women and children.