Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Afghanistan

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 - Afghanistan, 14 June 2004, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Afghanistan (Tier 2)

Afghanistan is a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and labor. Children are trafficked to Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia for begging, labor, and prostitution. Children are often trafficked with the consent of their parents who are told they will have better educational and job opportunities abroad. Over 200 Afghan children were repatriated from Saudi Arabia in early 2004. Women and girls are kidnapped, lured by fraudulent marriage proposals, or sold for forced marriage and prostitution in Pakistan. Women and girls are also trafficked internally as a part of the settlement of disputes or debts as well as for forced marriage and labor and sexual exploitation. Boys are trafficked internally mainly for labor and sexual exploitation. Iranian women transit Afghanistan to Pakistan where they are forced into prostitution.

Given the extremely limited resources available to the Transition Islamic State of Afghanistan, the anti-trafficking efforts seen in 2003 are commendable. Over the last year, new information – particularly an exhaustive International Organization for Migration (IOM) report – shed light on Afghanistan's sizeable trafficking problem, justifying the country's debut on this report.

The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so despite severe resource constraints. As a country in transition after more than 20 years of armed conflict, the government is rebuilding infrastructure and re-establishing the police and judicial sys-tem. By adopting comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation and seeking continued cooperation with donors and international organizations, the government can begin to sustain and strengthen its nascent efforts.


Afghanistan's law enforcement actions against trafficking improved during 2003, as police arrested suspected traffickers and for the first time rescued victims. The judiciary currently applies a mix of legal codes, Shari'a law, and customary law. Traffickers may be prosecuted under a number of statutes prohibiting kidnapping, rape, forced labor, transportation of minors, and child endangerment. In September 2003, police in Takhar intercepted a convoy carrying more than 50 children from Badakhshan and arrested eight men on suspicion of trafficking. Two people were arrested in Baghlan for allegedly kidnapping 12 children from Badakhshan with the intent to traffic them to Peshawar, Pakistan. Unreliable communication between government officials, and a lack of crime statistics in general, preclude the systematic monitoring of trafficking cases. Given the resources of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, adequate border monitoring is not feasible.


The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and UNICEF in 2003 established a transit center and a family verification system to assist in reuniting trafficked children with their parents. By March 2004, 219 children had been repatriated from Saudi Arabia. Representatives from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission monitor each child's reintegration at the local level, including obtaining signed guarantees that the child will not be sent away in the future. Beyond basic repatriation services, such as providing clothes, temporary shelter, and documenting and monitoring reunification, government authorities lack the resources to provide further assistance.


The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan established an inter-ministerial Child Trafficking Commission that includes representatives from international organizations to develop coordination between ministries. UNICEF and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission conducted a workshop on child trafficking in September for police officers from all 32 provinces, border police officials, and representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Women's Affairs, and the Kabul Juvenile Court. The Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs also held meetings in Kabul with 100 mullahs (Islamic clergy) to discuss trafficking and enlist their support in using their positions of influence to spread an anti-trafficking message. In October, provincial government officials, representatives from the Ministry of Justice, police, and local NGOs attended workshops on abduction and child trafficking in the northern provinces of Kunduz and Takhar. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission conducted workshops on trafficking and disseminated posters on child rights and trafficking to schools, government departments, and the police.

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