U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Russia
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||12 June 2007|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Russia, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be3d4c.html [accessed 26 October 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
Russia (Tier 2 Watch List)
Russia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for various purposes. Russia is a source country for men and women trafficked to Germany, Turkey, Portugal, the People's Republic of China, Japan, and South Korea for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor, including agricultural and maritime work. Russian women continue to be trafficked to Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East for sexual exploitation. Moscow and St. Petersburg are destination centers for children trafficked internally within Russia and from Ukraine and Moldova for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced begging. Child sex tourism in Western Russia remains a problem. Moscow continues to be a significant destination for men and women trafficked within Russia and from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor, including work in the construction industry. Moscow is also a transit point for women trafficked from Uzbekistan and Armenia to the United Arab Emirates for purposes of sexual exploitation.
The Government of Russia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Russia is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a fourth consecutive year for its continued failure to show evidence of increasing its overall efforts to combat trafficking, particularly in providing trafficking victims with protection. Specific trafficking victim assistance legislation, pending before the Duma, was neither passed nor enacted in 2006. Russia continued modest progress in its law enforcement efforts, particularly in its trafficking investigation efforts. In early 2007, the Ministry of Interior created the federal-level Counter Human Trafficking Unit to further strengthen anti-trafficking law enforcement coordination. In July 2006, the Duma passed asset forfeiture legislation that permits prosecutors to seek the forfeiture of the assets of convicted persons, including traffickers. In January, the Public Chamber of the national government provided grants to three anti-trafficking NGOs. Two local governments signed agreements with NGOs that establish a mechanism for victim referral. Although these are positive developments, Russia has yet to provide comprehensive human trafficking victim protections, covering the entire process from victim identification through reintegration and support. Overall, victim protection and assistance remains the weakest component of Russia's anti-trafficking efforts.
The national government should do more to develop a comprehensive national strategy that acknowledges the gravity of the problem and should allocate adequate resources to address remaining deficiencies in victim assistance and protection. The national government should establish a national action plan which designates ministerial responsibilities, designate specific funding from the national budget to carry out designated responsibilities, establish an official coordinating body with the authority to implement a national strategy, and evaluate ministerial efforts to combat trafficking. Special emphasis should be placed on improving national efforts to coordinate and enact victim assistance, protection, and rehabilitation. Russia should create a central repository for conviction and sentencing data for trafficking cases.
The Government of Russia demonstrated mixed progress in its law enforcement efforts over the last year. Article 127 of the criminal code prohibits both trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Other criminal statutes may be used to prosecute and convict traffickers. Article 127 provides punishments of up to five years' imprisonment for trafficking crimes; aggravating circumstances may extend penalties up to 10 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with punishments for other grave crimes, such as rape. In 2006, police conducted 125 trafficking investigations; 106 of these investigations were sexual exploitation cases and 19 were forced labor cases. This total is a significant increase from 80 investigations in 2005. It is difficult to ascertain the exact number of prosecutions and convictions in 2006 because the Government of Russia does not collect and maintain such statistics. Authorities conducted at least 26 prosecutions during the reporting period, compared to 53 prosecutions in 2005. At least 13 traffickers were convicted in 2006, compared to nine in 2005. At least 14 traffickers received prison sentences (some traffickers sentenced in 2006 were convicted during the previous reporting period and are reflected in the conviction statistics reported for 2005). Russia participated with other governments in several international investigations, resulting in the prosecution and conviction of traffickers both in Russia and abroad. Trafficking-related corruption remained a problem; however, Russia demonstrated its growing commitment to address this corruption by investigating and prosecuting a number of government officials involved in trafficking.
The unlawful forced labor of young conscripts within Russia's military remained a serious problem; at least 27 military officials, including army generals, were investigated or prosecuted for unlawful labor exploitation of soldiers under their command. One officer was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for forcing his soldiers to work for a third-party businessman. The Russian military is reported to be investigating claims that male army conscripts were forced into prostitution in St. Petersburg.
Russia demonstrated limited progress in its efforts to protect and assist victims. The federal government, through the Public Chamber, provided grants to three anti-trafficking NGOs in early 2007, including a grant of approximately $17,000 to one NGO that provides rehabilitation assistance to victims. Russia's Foreign Ministry reported assisting the return to Russia of some victims of trafficking from other countries. Although some local governments provided in-kind and financial support to some anti-trafficking NGOs, it appears the majority of aid to NGOs providing victim assistance was provided by international donors. Russia relies on regional and municipal-run domestic violence and homeless shelters as well as crisis centers and anti-trafficking NGOs to provide trafficking victims with shelter, and legal, medical, and psychological assistance. In the absence of available shelters some trafficking victims did not receive assistance. The comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, in development since 2003, would strengthen assistance to trafficking victims, better define the rights of trafficking victims, create a centralized authority to coordinate national anti-trafficking efforts, and allocate specified funding for anti-trafficking programs.
Police in various communities have increasingly encouraged victims to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions, partially attributed to specialized anti-trafficking training for police and prosecutors. The government permits victims to reside in Russia pending the investigation and prosecution of their trafficker.
Russia demonstrated progress in public awareness and prevention efforts during the reporting period. In January 2007, Russia enacted a new migration law that simplified the registration process for migrant workers in Russia and requires workers to register directly with the state; the previous law required employers to confiscate passports and other travel documents in order to register workers with the state, thereby making migrant workers more vulnerable to trafficking. In August, the Primorskiy Kray government sponsored a journalism competition, awarding a cash prize for the best new article on trafficking. Primorskiy Kray authorities also paid for the production of posters warning of the dangers of human trafficking and printed 30,000 pamphlets providing advice and information for Russians choosing to work abroad; these pamphlets were handed out at employment agencies and at ports-of-entry.