WASHINGTON, June 20 (RAPSI) - Sanctions may be placed on Russia, China and Uzbekistan, whose rating in the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report has been downgraded to Tier 3, the lowest rank, RIA Novosti reports.

The sanctions, which will not affect trade or humanitarian assistance, may come into force on October 1, 2013, if US President Barrack Obama does not determine that the provision of assistance is in the US national interest. 

The State Department has relegated Russia, China, and Uzbekistan to the lowest rating, which includes "countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards [to address human trafficking] and are not making significant efforts to do so."

Other countries in this category include Algeria, Congo, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Zimbabwe. 

Moscow expressed outrage at the report and warned of potential responses.

In accordance with the established procedure, US sanctions can be applied against all of the above countries. The United States government "may withhold or withdraw non-humanitarian, non-trade-related foreign assistance" and may also oppose the provision of assistance from international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank.

However, all or part of the sanctions "can be waived if the US President determines that the provision of such assistance is in the United States' national interest."

The report claims that Russia has not been taking sufficient measures to prevent trafficking in persons, to ensure the prosecution of the guilty parties, or to help trafficking victims.

The State Department recommends that Russia strengthens its efforts to identify trafficking victims and to refer them to service providers, and also "to allocate funding to state bodies and anti-trafficking NGOs to provide specialized trafficking victim assistance and rehabilitative care."