The State Department report "has political characteristics with unobjective comments that do not correctly reflect the real situation in Vietnam," foreign ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said in a statement.

Vietnam joined fellow Southeast Asian nations Singapore and Thailand on the watch list in the State Department's annual report, which accused them of failing to prevent women from being forced into prostitution.

Nga responded that Vietnam considered the trafficking of women and children, in particular, to be a dangerous crime that violated human rights and was severely punished.

She said that since 2004 the government had implemented a plan to reduce the problem.

"So far, efforts by Vietnam in the fight against human trafficking have positively impacted the whole society and have been noticed by the international community," the spokeswoman said.

The state Vietnam News this month cited a government report which said human trafficking was rising in Vietnam, with organised gangs using more sophisticated techniques to evade authorities.

From 2005 until this year, 3,190 women and children returned to Vietnam after being trafficked, the report said, citing the social affairs ministry. Most were rescued or escaped, it said.

Agence France Presse - June 17, 2010