U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Belarus
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||3 June 2005|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Belarus, 3 June 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d831c.html [accessed 24 September 2014]|
Belarus (Tier 2)
Belarus is primarily a source country for women and children trafficked to Europe, North America, the Middle East, and Japan for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Approximately one-fifth of the victims IOM assisted in 2004 were trafficked for labor exploitation. Organizations reported an increase in men trafficked for forced labor to Russia during the reporting period. Belarus' borders with Russia and Ukraine remained porous, allowing for the easy movement of people.
The Government of Belarus does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In early March 2005, President Lukashenko signed a presidential decree to combat trafficking in persons; the lower house of parliament approved the decree in early April. Belarus continued to increase its law enforcement efforts, but it lacked adequate funding for victim protection and trafficking prevention. To advance anti-trafficking efforts, Belarus should adopt amendments to strengthen anti-trafficking legislation including defining victims' rights. The interagency task force should meet regularly. Also, as a major source country, Belarus should provide the training and funding its overseas personnel need to assist trafficking victims.
Belarusian anti-trafficking enforcement efforts increased during the reporting period. Law enforcement authorities prosecuted 290 trafficking cases in 2004, up from 191 in 2003. To detect victims and trafficking schemes, the State Border Guards worked with former trafficking victims. Existing 2001 anti-trafficking legislation prohibits trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation with sufficiently severe penalties. Prosecutors and judges improved their use of this law in 2004; the government secured the first conviction under it in July. The government deals with trafficking for labor exploitation under a separate article with sentences of up to three years' imprisonment. In total, Belarusian courts convicted 26 individuals for trafficking and recruiting for sexual exploitation. In 2004, the courts imposed penalties for trafficking of three to eight years' imprisonment. In 2004, Belarusian authorities cooperated on trafficking cases with their counterparts from Germany, Austria, Israel, Turkey, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, and Poland. While reports continued of bribes to law enforcement and border officials for ignoring trafficking activities, in 2004 the government made strong statements condemning such inducements. In February 2005, the courts found a Ministry of Culture official guilty of complicity in trafficking for sexual exploitation from January 2001 to April 2003. The court sentenced him to eight years' imprisonment and confiscated his personal property.
The Belarusian Government did not directly fund victim assistance during the reporting period, though it gave some in-kind support to NGOs. In July 2004, the Minsk city government provided building space for an EU/UNDP-funded shelter. The government integrated into its law enforcement training academy an IOM-produced anti-trafficking operations manual that provides guidance on victim detection methods and approaches to working with and assisting victims. According to the Ministry of Interior, it did not arrest, fine, or charge victims with prostitution or immigration violations in 2004; it made 110 direct referrals to IOM during the reporting period. Witness protection of trafficking victims remained inadequate. Overall, Belarusian law and society continued to consider women "victims" only if they were unaware prior to their trafficking ordeal that they would be involved in prostitution; even then, they often suffered as social outcasts.
While the government did not conduct independent anti-trafficking information campaigns in 2004, it actively supported those of international organizations. The government aired anti-trafficking public service announcements produced by international organizations on State television channels free of charge. In January 2005, a State-owned television channel aired the UNDP documentary film, Ally's Dream, which is about Belarusian girls trafficked to Germany and Russia for sexual exploitation. The documentary also ran in selected theaters with strong advertising to students. The government's Task Force to Combat Trafficking did not convene during the reporting period.