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AG/RES.2256 (XXXVI-O/06) Hemispheric Efforts To Combat Trafficking In Persons: Conclusions And Recommendations Of The First Meeting Of National Authorities On Trafficking In Persons


June 6, 2006

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General Assembly of the Organization of American States
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 6, 2006

Hemispheric Efforts To Combat Trafficking In Persons: Conclusions And Recommendations Of The First Meeting Of National Authorities On Trafficking In Persons1

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,

BEARING IN MIND resolutions AG/RES. 2019 (XXXIV-O/04), AG/RES. 2026 (XXXIV-O/04), and AG/RES. 2118 (XXXV-O/05); the Conclusions and Recommendations of the First Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons, held on Isla Margarita, Venezuela, from March 14 to 17, 2006; and the recommendations of the Sixth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA-VI), held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from April 24 to 26, 2006;

HAVING SEEN the Annual Report of Activities by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Section of the Organization of American States (CP/doc.4105/06);

CONSIDERING:

The increase in trafficking in persons in the Hemisphere and its economic, social, and human repercussions;

That poverty, inequity, and social exclusion in the Hemisphere are factors that increase the vulnerability of persons, especially women and children, to becoming victims of traffickers, who often belong to organized criminal groups that operate at both domestic and transnational levels;

The commitment assumed by the member states to improve their capacity for identifying, investigating, prosecuting, and punishing those responsible for trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, and to provide due assistance and protection to the victims, in the framework of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime;

That trafficking in persons violates the human rights of victims and affects society at large, can lead to the breakdown of families and communities, facilitates the growth of organized crime and other illicit activities, deprives countries of human capital and thus inhibits development, increases public health costs, and undermines observance of the law, which is exacerbated when resources are lacking and in cases where corruption exists;

That trafficking in persons occurs within and across national borders; and

The need to strengthen the response, at the domestic and hemispheric levels, to trafficking in persons, including, when necessary, the amendment of domestic laws and policies, so as to carry out effective measures to prevent and fight trafficking, especially in women and children, and to give adequate protection and assistance to victims, respecting the human rights and dignity of the human being, and in the framework of the Protocol;

RECOGNIZING the efforts of member states in fighting trafficking in persons; and recalling the commitment by our governments to strengthen regional and international cooperation in fighting this serious crime, which is usually a manifestation of transnational organized crime;

BEARING IN MIND the commitment assumed by the member states, during the First Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons, held in Venezuela from March 14 to 17, 2006, to consider signing and ratifying, ratifying, or acceding to, as the case may be, and to implement as soon as possible, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and other relevant international instruments on the subject; and

TAKING INTO ACCOUNT that, as an initial step in implementing the international obligations acquired by ratifying the said Protocol, the states parties should criminalize trafficking in persons in their respective domestic legislations, in accordance with its provisions,

RESOLVES:

1. To reaffirm its commitment to fight the crime of trafficking in persons, by means of a comprehensive approach that takes into account the prevention of trafficking, prosecution of its perpetrators, protection of and assistance to its victims and respect for their human rights, as well as the strengthening of international cooperation in the area and implementation of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and of other relevant international instruments.

2. To welcome the Conclusions and Recommendations of the First Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons of the member states of the Organization of American States (OAS), held on Isla Margarita, Venezuela, from March 14 to 17, 2006, which are part of this resolution and constitute an essential contribution to the definition of an international cooperation strategy and to the identification of national and hemispheric actions and measures to strengthen the fight against trafficking in persons.

3. To encourage member states to take the necessary measures to implement, as appropriate, the Conclusions and Recommendations of the First Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons.

4. To urge those member states that have not yet done so to consider ratifying, acceding to, or accepting, as the case may be, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, as well as other initiatives and actions geared toward preventing trafficking in persons, prosecuting its perpetrators, and protecting and assisting its victims.

5. To request the Permanent Council to continue, through the Committee on Hemispheric Security, to consider this topic taking into account its comprehensive and crosscutting nature.

6. To request the General Secretariat to take the necessary measures, as appropriate, within the resources allocated in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources, to implement the Conclusions and Recommendations of the First Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons.

7. To request the OAS organs, agencies, entities, and mechanisms executing these recommendations to adopt an integrated and crosscutting approach to the matter of trafficking in persons.

8. To recognize the important role played by civil society in combating all aspects of trafficking in persons; and to recommend that the member states continue to dialogue with civil society organizations in their efforts against trafficking in persons.

9.To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-seventh regular session on the implementation of this resolution.

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1Mexico notes an inconsistency between resolution AG/RES. 2240 (XXXVI-O/06), "Combating the Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Smuggling of and Trafficking in Children in the Hemisphere," and resolution AG/RES. 2256 (XXXVI-O/06), "Hemispheric Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons: Conclusions and Recommendations of the First Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons," as regards the competent forum for dealing with the problem of trafficking in persons at the OAS. Mexico believes that trafficking in persons should be addressed from a crosscutting, integrated perspective and, therefore, stresses that, until such time as the Organization has a forum for that purpose, the appropriate forum is the Permanent Council.

APPENDIX: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE MEETING OF NATIONAL AUTHORITIES ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

(Document approved at the plenary meeting on March 17, 2006)

PREAMBLE

The national authorities of the member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) responsible for combating trafficking in persons, meeting for the first time to consider this issue on Isla Margarita, in the State of Nueva Esparta in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, from March 14 to 17, 2006,

taking into account the recommendation of the Fifth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA-V), as well as the mandates issued by the OAS General Assembly in its resolutions AG/RES. 2019 (XXXIV-O/04), AG/RES. 2026 (XXXIV-O/04), and AG/RES. 2118 (XXXV-O/05), underscore the importance of this event, which seeks to exchange information and share experiences that will reinforce our cooperation in abolishing this scourge;

CONCERNED over the increase in the crime of trafficking in persons in the Hemisphere and its economic, social, and human repercussions;

AWARE that poverty, inequity, and social exclusion in the Hemisphere are factors that place people, especially women and children, at greater risk of becoming victims of traffickers, who often belong to organized criminal groups, which operate at both domestic and transnational levels;

CONCERNED ALSO over the various crimes connected with trafficking in persons, such as corruption and money-laundering, among others, since they exacerbate or facilitate trafficking;

RECALLING the governments' commitment to improve their capacity to identify, investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible for trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, and to provide due assistance and protection to the victims, in the framework of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime;

RECOGNIZING the need to strengthen the domestic and hemispheric response to trafficking in persons, including, where necessary, amending domestic laws and policies so as to carry out effective actions to prevent and combat trafficking, especially in women and children, and provide the victims with adequate protection and assistance, respecting human rights and human dignity, in the framework of the Protocol;

TAKING INTO ACCOUNT the need for a comprehensive approach to the subject, engaged in a broad dialogue on the implementation of the international legal instruments, including the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, the protection of and assistance to trafficking victims, the prevention of this crime, the prosecution of its perpetrators, cooperation among countries of origin, transit, and destination of trafficking in persons, and the establishment or improvement of statistical records;

RECALLING the commitment made by the member states to consider signing and ratifying, ratifying, or acceding to, as the case may be, and to implement as soon as possible the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and other pertinent international instruments on the matter;

RECOGNIZING ALSO the efforts made by member states in combating trafficking in persons; and recalling the commitment made by our governments to strengthen regional and international cooperation in fighting this serious crime, which is usually a manifestation of transnational organized crime; and

WELCOMING the contributions received from experts, international organizations, civil society organizations, and observers that participated in the Meeting,

SUBMIT the following Conclusions and Recommendations to the Sixth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA-VI):

TOPIC I IMPLEMENTATION OF THE JURIDICAL INSTRUMENTS ON THE ISSUE

1. Those states that have not yet done so should consider signing, ratifying, or acceding to, whichever is applicable, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the supplementary Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and implement its provisions;

2. Those states that have not yet done so should consider signing, ratifying, or acceding to, whichever is applicable, the Inter-American Convention on International Traffic in Minors and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and Convention 182 of the International Labour Organization on the Worst Forms of Child Labor and implement its provisions;

3. As an initial step in implementing the international obligations acquired by ratifying the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, the states parties should criminalize trafficking in persons in their respective domestic legislations in accordance with their provisions. Those states that have not yet ratified the instrument might also consider criminalizing such traffic in accordance with the definition and elements contained in Article 3 thereof;

4. The member states should also consider implementing in their respective national legislations all legislative measures designed to criminalize in their countries all criminal behaviors involving trafficking in persons, such as participation in an organized criminal group, bribery, obstruction of justice and money laundering, illegal arms trafficking and illegal drug trafficking, among others, in accordance with the obligations set forth in the United Nations Convention against Organized Transnational Crime and other multilateral instruments to combat organized crime.

TOPIC II PREVENTION OF THE CRIME OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

1. Conduct, within the framework of the OAS, surveys and clarification campaigns in the Hemisphere, based on existing experiences. These campaigns could be undertaken in each country, taking into account their cultural specificities. The stigmatization of nationals from less developed regions abroad should also be considered;

2. The OAS and its member states could conduct any multidisciplinary studies and diagnoses necessary in order to analyze and comprehend the social and human, as well as the economic causes and consequences, connected with the phenomenon of trafficking in persons, which would include the forces of demand, modus operandi of the criminal networks, the movement of earnings generated by trafficking in persons and how this is related to other illegal or illegal economic activities, the circuit of income and the social, psychological, physical, emotional, and other negative impacts on the victims;

3. The member states should strive to promote full enjoyment of the human rights of the peoples of the Americas, creating conditions of equality, with a view to preventing the crime of trafficking in persons;

4. Recognizing that poverty is a fundamental factor in promoting conditions for trafficking in persons, the member states should undertake to strengthen those public policies that have high social content and are designed to protect vulnerable groups, especially women, children, and migrants, resorting in particular to bilateral or multilateral cooperation;

5. Study the establishment of a national interagency entity in member states that do not yet have one that would be in charge of coordinating actions to prevent and combat the crime of trafficking in persons and ensure protection and care for victims;

6. The member states should, in accordance with their respective national legislations, consider developing plans and programs to disseminate trafficking in persons issues in educational institutions at every level, underscoring education as an essential factor of prime importance in preventing this offense. To that end, they should examine the possibility of including the topic of trafficking in persons in study programs at the various academic levels;

7. Develop mass information campaigns with the aim of making society aware about prevention and combat of the crime of trafficking in persons, for which the support of the media is vital;

8. Recognize the role of the media in promoting images that value women and eradicate gender stereotypes, in articles and broadcasts aimed at preventing trafficking in persons;

9. Promote the production of training and awareness campaigns on the issue of trafficking in persons, for national authorities, especially migration, consular, health, and police authorities, fighting discrimination from a gender-based approach;

10. Promote interagency mechanisms for supervising and monitoring centers of employment, with a view to preventing the exploitation of workers and protecting their rights, including such vulnerable groups as migrant workers;

11. Strengthen juridical protection for workers throughout the region, urging all social sectors, including the private sector, to take social responsibility and reject practices that involve the exploitation of human beings in all its forms;

12. Notwithstanding the international commitments on the free circulation of persons, the member states will, insofar as is possible, strengthen any border controls that may be necessary in order to prevent and detect trafficking in persons;

13. The member states should provide training on the prevention of trafficking in persons to law enforcement officers, immigration officers, and other pertinent officials, or strengthen existing training, whichever is applicable. This must focus on the methods applied to prevent such traffic, bringing the perpetrators to trial and protecting victims' rights, including protecting victims from the perpetrators;

14. Entrust the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security of the OAS General Secretariat to compile best practices on the issue of trafficking in persons in the field of migratory control, that do not pose a barrier to migration;

15. Identify and produce, if not already done, maps of the routes and cities most affected by the phenomenon of trafficking in persons, in order to prioritize preventive actions in the most vulnerable areas, including especially borders, as applicable. To that effect, civil society's help in identifying the existing circumstances would be essential for future campaigns, actions, and prevention policies;

16. Promote the inclusion of a gender perspective in all policies, programs, and projects, including those designed to protect women victims of violence, discrimination, mistreatment, exploitation, trafficking in persons, and abuse;

17. Recognizing that inequity and social exclusion tend to make people vulnerable to human trafficking, the member states must promote gender equality and the human rights of women, strengthening and promoting their full and equal participation in the political life of their countries and in decision-making at all levels, and ensuring women fair and equal access to job opportunities;

18. The member states must take steps directly and indirectly to combat corruption involving trafficking in persons among government officials from all sectors, whether they are performing their duties at home or abroad in the countries of origin, transit, and destination;

19. Strengthen checks and controls in the field of commercial transport such as travel agencies and staff recruitment agencies in the countries of origin, transit, and destination, to prevent them from being used for trafficking in persons, taking into account international commitments on the free movement of people.

TOPIC III PROSECUTION OF THE PERPETRATORS OF THE CRIME OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

1. Inclusion of a broad curriculum on the crime of trafficking in persons, in accordance with domestic and international legislations, for all the judicial authorities responsible for law enforcement and for all those responsible for the administration of justice in the Hemisphere;

2. Integrate the member states' efforts in the fight against trafficking in persons with other fronts to combat transnational organized crime, especially including anti money-laundering measures;

3. Urge the member states to consider implementing such measures as searches, seizure, and confiscation of the proceeds of crime, as an essential part of a regional policy to suppress trafficking in persons, to the extent that national legislations permit such measures;

4. The member states should endeavor to ensure that their legislations include legal provisions to establish civil, criminal, or administrative sanctions for individuals as well as for bodies corporate. In particular, the member states should study the possibility of providing for criminal liability in their respective domestic legislations for bodies corporate that are involved in activities connected with trafficking in persons;

5. The member states should study the possibility of establishing bilateral and multilateral agreements for exchanging information on the criminal records of people who have been charged with the crime of trafficking in persons and crimes involving trafficking in persons, pursuant to each country's legislation;

6. Strengthen effective cooperation mechanisms among the member states on judicial investigation and mutual legal assistance, and entrust the Meeting of Central Authorities and Other Experts on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition, and its Working Group, to study formulas and procedures to strengthen this cooperation.

TOPIC IV PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE FOR VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

1. The member states must develop a convergent approach, for instance though guidelines for the treatment of victims, with minimum standards of care and attention, through model regulations or best-practice guides for the integral, psychological, medical, legal, and social assistance for victims of trafficking in persons abroad, by consulates and in their country of origin after they return;

2. In accordance with international instruments and domestic legislation, the member states should endeavor to develop a national strategy to protect victims, which would include identification of victims, rescue policies, and social reintegration of victims, as well as their integral attention to facilitate their physical, psychological, social, and emotional recovery, and their individual security. This assistance must be provided bearing in mind age and gender to avoid further exploitation and damage. Medical, psychological, social, and legal care must also be included;

3. The member states should undertake to create and strengthen whatever mechanisms are necessary to guarantee consular assistance to victims, in accordance with international agreements, including´┐Żas far as possible´┐Żthe necessary funding for assistance; and the design and implementation of national and hemispheric information campaigns to provide guidance to victims on the assistance to which they are entitled through their consular and diplomatic representations. The authorities in the recipient country must also work closely with the accredited consular authorities;

4. The member states should undertake to study cooperation mechanisms to enable victims of trafficking in persons to be repatriated, when appropriate, in accordance with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, guaranteeing their safety and integrity;

5. The OAS should prepare a directory of national authorities both for assistance and for investigation and points of contact in the countries of the Hemisphere. in order to assist victims of trafficking in persons;

6. Pursuant to international obligations, the member states must provide proper protection and assistance to victims of trafficking in persons and any attention necessary to safeguard their human rights and this assistance must be given in cooperation, when appropriate, with specialized international cooperation organizations or agencies and other sectors of society;

7. The member states must ensure, to the extent possible and in accordance with their respective domestic legislations, that the victims of trafficking in persons are not prosecuted for participating in illegal activities if they are the direct results of their being a victim of such trafficking;

8. The member states should endeavor, in accordance with their domestic legislation, to ensure the possibility that the guilty parties make reparation for the damage caused to the victims of trafficking in persons;

9. The member states should undertake, in accordance with international instruments on the matter, to ensure the right to effective access to justice, among other things enabling mechanisms to be implemented that allow the victims of trafficking in persons to remain in their territory so that they can, if necessary, participate in criminal and civil lawsuits and have access to the courts in order obtain reparation for the damage caused, guaranteeing full respect for the obligations concerning victim protection during that time;

10. The member states should undertake to guarantee the victims of trafficking in persons, from the moment they are detected, integral welfare programs that enable them to participate effectively in lawsuits, their recovery, and their social reinsertion, in accordance with the international agreements signed on the matter and their respective domestic legislations;

11. Bearing in mind the interests of the child above all else, the member states should, in the case of child trafficking, undertake to ensure special measures for immediate protection, including accommodation, education, and suitable care and, when appropriate, their supervised transfer by a competent authority;

12. The member states should endeavor, as far as possible, to establish financing mechanisms to create and strengthen pertinent and effective programs to attend to and protect victims of the crime of trafficking in persons.

TOPIC V EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION AND EXPERIENCES, POLITICAL DIALOGUE AND COOPERATION AMONG THE COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN, TRANSIT, AND DESTINATION OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING, AS WELL AS THE CREATION OR IMPROVEMENT OF STATISTICAL RECORDS ON THE MATTER

The member states should adopt the principle of co-responsibility among the countries of origin, transit, and destination for international cooperation.

Cooperation among the member states

1. In the spirit of sharing responsibilities, the member states should strengthen hemispheric cooperation based on a multidisciplinary approach, which includes preventive measures, especially those aimed at discouraging demand, providing assistance to victims, and respecting their human rights and fundamental freedoms;

2. The member states should introduce expeditious mechanisms, in line with their domestic body of laws, to enable information to be exchanged and political dialogue to be strengthened among the countries of origin, transit, and destination, within and outside the Hemisphere, in relation to trafficking in persons, and regional and international cooperation networks should be created to enable competent authorities, in particular the judicial and police authorities, to combat the crime of trafficking in persons. In order to do so, bi-annual meetings will be held on trafficking in persons within the Organization;

3. Expeditious mechanisms for exchanging information among the member states should be strengthened in order to help identify the movement of human traffickers from a country of origin to another of transit or destination;

4. Cooperation among the member states to train administrators of justice to substantiate trials for trafficking in persons crimes;

Cooperation by international organizations

5. The OAS could set up strategic alliances with other international cooperation organizations and agencies to fight trafficking in persons, particularly with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, for the effective application of Article 30 of the International Convention against Transnational Organized Crime of the United Nations, in relation to economic development and technical assistance measures;

6. Recommend that the OAS provide technical assistance and coordinate financial operations with other international agencies so that a requesting member state can implement prevention and training programs, awareness campaigns, programs to fight trafficking in persons, and victim protection and assistance programs;

7. Keep the topic of the fight against trafficking in persons transversal and ongoing on the Organization's agenda;

8. The OAS, with the support of the member states, should compile a hemispheric glossary of terms connected with trafficking in persons that would put the countries on an equal footing to avoid errors being made in interpreting and applying the measures adopted;

9. As a means of preventing trafficking in persons, the OAS and other international organizations must develop and speed up international cooperation to fight poverty, inequity, and social exclusion, and other causes liable to facilitate, enable, and foster trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrant1;

10. The OAS must also develop and step up international cooperation to fight corruption and money laundering and other factors liable to exacerbate trafficking in persons;

11. To that effect the states are urged to support efforts by the Working Group on negotiation of the Social Charter of the Americas and its Plan of Action, within the framework of the OAS2;

Records and statistics

12. Recommend the use of the OAS Website's section on Trafficking in Persons to disseminate information on events and specific subregional, hemispheric, and international initiatives related to the fight against trafficking in persons. Creation and publication on the Website of a hemispheric database within the framework of the OAS, with links to the databases of other international organizations and competent authorities that have information on the subject, which would give an overall picture of the situation of trafficking in persons in the region;

Civil Society

13. Recognizing the important role of civil society in fighting all aspects of trafficking in persons, the member states are recommended to continue the dialogue with civil society organizations in their efforts to combat trafficking in persons.

The member states are therefore invited, where possible, to give due consideration to the proposals contained in document RTP/doc.10/06, "Declaration of General and Specific Recommendations to Prevent, Fight and Punish Trafficking in Persons and Provide Comprehensive Protection for Its Victims."

CONCLUSIONS

1. The national authorities on trafficking in persons of the OAS member states value the fruitful exchange of experiences on trafficking in persons during this First Meeting, held on Isla Margarita, Nueva Esparta State, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, from March 14 to 17, 2006. The dialogue responded fully to the mandate of the thirty-fifth regular session of the OAS General Assembly and the recommendation of the Fifth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas. They acknowledge that thanks to this Meeting, the member states have made substantial progress in designing a strategy for international cooperation and in identifying national and hemispheric actions and measures to strengthen the fight against trafficking in persons.

The authorities also acknowledge the valuable support received from experts on the subject who participated in this Meeting and helped it to develop so smoothly.

2. The member states recognize and value the participation of civil society in the First Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons, and hence wish to underscore the important role they play in giving this phenomenon a more integral, participatory, and comprehensive orientation.

3. The national authorities on trafficking in persons and the OAS member states especially wish to thank the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for its hospitality and excellent organization of this event.

4. The national authorities on trafficking in persons of the OAS member states have decided to submit these conclusions and recommendations to the Permanent Council of the OAS for presentation at the thirty-sixth regular session of the OAS General Assembly, in accordance with resolution AG/RES. 2118 (XXXV-O/05).


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1The delegation of the United States of America disagrees with this paragraph.
2The delegation of the United States of America disagrees with this paragraph.



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