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Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago

[21.08.23] US Human Trafficking Report Faults Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan

An annual report on human trafficking issued by the US State Department identifies Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan as among the worst nations in the world in preventing forced prostitution and slave labor.
Overall, 15 nations were designated as "Tier 3" countries in the State Department's Trafficking in Persons report, released in June. According to the State Department, nations in the Tier 3 category failed to meet minimum standards outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, passed by the US Congress in 2000. In addition, Tier 3 states are "not making significant efforts to eliminate human trafficking and bondage," the report said.
Concerning Georgia, the report said the country is "a source country for women trafficked primarily to Turkey, Greece, and the UAE, with smaller numbers trafficked to Israel, Spain, Portugal and the United States for purposes of sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and forced labor"
Kazakhstan received a Tier 3 designation largely because of authorities' diminished response to the human trafficking issue over the past year. Though Kazakh law forbids "illicit migration" and officials investigated several reports of trafficking, no cases have yet gone to court. However the reported noted that the government "presented to Parliament long-awaited draft anti-trafficking legislation, which passed the lower house of Parliament on May 15."
The report described Turkey as "a destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and labor." It also said Turkey served as a transit country for women and girls being trafficked to Western Europe
The State Department called Uzbekistan "primarily a source, and to a lesser extent, a transit country" for trafficked individuals. "Confirmed information on the extent of trafficking from Uzbekistan only recently emerged, and there is a concern that the deterioration in the economy may lead to a growing problem," the report said
The State Department has authority to suspend aid (except aid termed "humanitarian, trade-related, ordevelopment-related") to countries that show no meaningful efforts to stop human trafficking. It remains to be seen, however, whether the US government would actually move to suspend such aid to Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.
Georgia and Uzbekistan have emerged as key US strategic allies in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Although Turkish ties with the United States have been strained since Ankara declined to host temporary US bases to support the invasion of Iraq, Ankara nevertheless remains a key component in regional stabilization efforts
In Uzbekistan's case, the government is reportedly trying to make it easier for victims to return from abroad, said the report, and has allowed some anti-trafficking groups to give lessons in public schools. Law enforcement has shown some improvement as well, the State Department says and some NGOs are conducting programs to raise awareness about trafficking-related issues
The State Department report said Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan were "making significant efforts" to comply with US mandates to curb trafficking. The countries were designated "Tier 2," meaning they have serious trafficking problems but have increased their attention over the past year to addressing the issue. The report did not evaluate trafficking conditions concerning Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
EurasiaNet, August 21, 2003

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