Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Georgia
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||4 June 2008|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Georgia, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a182.html [accessed 19 September 2014]|
GEORGIA (Tier 1)
Georgia is a source and transit country for women and girls trafficked primarily within the country and to Turkey and the U.A.E. for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Women and girls from Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, and other former Soviet states are trafficked through Georgia to Turkey, the U.A.E., and Western Europe. Men are trafficked for the purpose of forced labor within the country and to Turkey, Russia, Greece, and the Gulf states. The breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were outside of the government's control and remained likely source, destination, and transit areas for trafficking in persons.
The Government of Georgia fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government made considerable progress over the past year, particularly in the prosecution and punishment of traffickers, and in the prevention of trafficking.
Recommendation for Georgia: Ensure that proactive victim identification and assistance policies are fully institutionalized and implemented in Georgia.
The Government of Georgia made appreciable progress in its law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Georgia prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through its Law on the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons, adopted in April 2006, which prescribes penalties ranging from seven to 20 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those for other grave crimes, such as rape. In June 2007, the Parliament of Georgia enacted an amendment to the Criminal Code of Georgia, criminalizing the exploitation of a trafficking victim. In 2007, the government investigated 37 trafficking cases, and authorities prosecuted 16 cases, including four labor trafficking cases involving 18 trafficking offenders, resulting in 18 guilty verdicts. All 18 traffickers convicted in 2007 received a prison term. The average sentence was 13 to 14 years' imprisonment. All new Georgian police officers must complete basic anti-trafficking training. Specialized, advanced anti-trafficking training is mandatory for all Border Police and Special Operations Department members. There were no reports of trafficking-related complicity of law enforcement personnel from either NGOs or the government.
Georgia continued to improve overall victim protections over the reporting period, although there were indications that implementation of victim identification and assistance procedures may need improvement. The government allocated $180,000 to the State Fund for Victim Protection and Assistance (SFVPA) in 2007 and pledged to increase funding again by 50 percent in the next year. With this funding, the government funds 70 percent of the operating costs of two trafficking victim shelters and provides victims with free legal and medical assistance. The SFVPA also provides trafficking victims with a $650 victim assistance allowance, regardless of whether the victim cooperates with law enforcement authorities. Foreign victims of human trafficking are afforded full victim assistance benefits under Georgian law, including legal alternatives to removal to countries where they would face hardship or retribution. Trafficking victims and witnesses can also be placed under protection of separate witness protection procedures in accordance with Georgia's criminal procedure legislation. The government recognized 48 trafficking victims during the reporting period and provided SFVPA assistance services to 12. Although all trafficking victims are eligible to receive SFVPA aid, not all requested government assistance. While the government does not currently provide funding to trafficking NGOs, it maintains a positive working relationship with most of them. There is a formal mechanism for officials to use as a guide for identifying victims and referring them to service providers, and Georgian law prohibits trafficking victims from being penalized for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked; however, there were reports that the government unknowingly jailed trafficking victims on immigration violations. Once identified as trafficking victims, two persons were released and repatriated by the government to the victims' country of origin. Georgian consular services abroad facilitated in repatriating five persons to Georgia during the reporting period.
Georgia conducted extensive anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns and outreach activities during the reporting period, including meetings with university students, journalists, and ethnic minority representatives. The Permanent Interagency Anti-Trafficking Coordination Council, led by the head of the Presidential Administration, serves as the coordinating body for all government anti-trafficking efforts and involves representatives from local and international NGOs and embassies. During public meetings and TV and radio shows, the Coordination Council made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts by highlighting the new proposed legislation criminalizing "clients" who benefit from trafficking victims' exploitation. The government also broadcast two public service announcements targeting potential victims and "clients" on three television channels during the reporting period. Georgia's Civil Registry Agency continues to disseminate anti-trafficking brochures with new passports. The Ministry of Internal Affairs' Informational-Analytical Department maintains a database accessible by all government agencies that stores and organizes trafficking-related information. The Office of the Prosecutor General informs the public, NGOs, and other government agencies about trafficking cases through its quarterly newsletter and an online mailing list. In November and December 2007, IOM and the Prosecutor General's office provided training for Georgian soldiers prior to their deployment to Iraq to join the Multi-National Forces. The Ministry of Defense includes basic trafficking awareness training for all future international peacekeeping contributions as well.