U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Kyrgyz Republic
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||14 June 2004|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Kyrgyz Republic, 14 June 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d80d23.html [accessed 23 April 2014]|
Kyrgyz Republic (Tier 2)
The Kyrgyz Republic is a source and transit country for women, men, and children trafficked to Kazakhstan and Russia for the purpose of forced labor, and to the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Turkey, and China for sexual exploitation. Women who are either destined for or transiting through the country come from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Trafficking also occurs within the country, from poor rural areas in the south to northern cities such as Bishkek and Osh. Bride kidnapping is a problem, despite a law prohibiting this custom. However, the prevalence of this custom is unclear. One study indicated that up to one-third of ethnic Kyrgyz women living in northern Kyrgyzstan may be married against their will as a result of this practice, which is a form of indentured servitude.
The Government of the Kyrgyz Republic does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite few resources, the government improved law enforcement efforts and continued to work with NGOs and international organizations on prevention and protection efforts. The government should focus greater attention on addressing official corruption, which inhibits progress on the trafficking problem. It should also make a greater effort to protect victims by referring them to the shelter, expeditiously finalizing referral protocols to that end, and instituting witness protection programs.
The Government of the Kyrgyz Republic amended its criminal code in August 2003 to penalize trafficking crimes with penalties ranging from three to 20 years in prison. The government established an anti-trafficking unit in June 2003. During the reporting period, police charged 96 individuals for trafficking-related crimes, including recruiting for sexual or labor exploitation, organizing illegal migration, and marriage to underage persons. The government provided limited information regarding prosecutions and convictions. It is difficult, therefore, to assess how effectively laws are enforced. Independent sources confirmed that Kyrgyz authorities convicted and sentenced at least one person to five years in prison under the new trafficking legislation. Another six individuals were convicted under trafficking-related charges. Endemic official corruption impedes progress on the trafficking problem. Victims reported smooth and highly organized trafficking operations that often involved the cooperation of local police, immigration officials, and airport security. In early 2004, Kyrgyz police arrested three people involved in a trafficking scheme, including an immigration official and a former employee of the state passport department. Two of the three have been charged under the new trafficking in persons law; the third individual is still under investigation. Government investigations of labor export and travel companies forced five companies to change their policies; the government also suspended the activities of three companies and the representative of a fourth. Kyrgyz authorities developed anti-trafficking cooperation with counterparts in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, China, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.
Progress by the Kyrgyz Republic on victim protection remained weak. The government does not provide foreign trafficking victims temporary residence status or criminal immunity for violations committed as a consequence of their trafficked condition, but border authorities reported that they do not penalize Kyrgyz victims who admit to the use of false documents or illegal entry into the country. Although police have begun to refer victims to an NGO shelter opened in October 2003, formal referral protocols are under development. The government established a working group to outline measures for witness protection. Kyrgyz embassies and consulates are directed to cooperate with NGOs and law enforcement agencies to search for and assist Kyrgyz citizens who wish to return, but their staffs have received no victim-awareness training. The number of individuals trafficked to Kazakhstan and Russia for forced labor has decreased largely due to the signing of bilateral agreements with Russia and Kazakhstan on labor migration.
The Kyrgyz Government over the last year displayed a willingness to work with NGOs and donors on joint programs to prevent trafficking. Over 900 justice and police personnel received training on trafficking issues from NGOs and international organizations in 2003. The Foreign Affairs Ministry released a booklet of information for Kyrgyz citizens seeking to work abroad in former Soviet Union countries to better inform labor migrants of their rights. The government publicized arrests and prosecutions of traffickers, which were reported by state-run and independent media. The Border Police continued to improve their border monitoring capabilities with assistance from outside sources. In 2003, the Border Guard Service created a database to track trafficking-related cases, and introduced a new entry/exit system in early 2004 to better monitor migration trends. In March 2004, the government made plans to assume funding of the two-person Secretariat of the National Council to Combat Trafficking, which had been previously funded by the International Organization for Migration.