Last Updated: Friday, 26 December 2014, 13:50 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Russia

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 - Russia, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a3830.html [accessed 29 December 2014]
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.

RUSSIA (Tier 2 Watch List)

Russia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for various forms of exploitation. Men and women from the Russian Far East are trafficked to China, Japan, the Middle East, and South Korea for purposes of sexual exploitation, debt bondage, and forced labor, including in the agricultural and fishing industries. Russian women are trafficked to Turkey, Greece, Germany, Italy, Spain, Malta, the United States, Canada, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and the Middle East for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Moscow and St. Petersburg are destination centers for children trafficked within Russia and from Ukraine and Moldova for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced begging. 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; in 2007, the number of Belarusian men trafficked to Moscow increased for purposes of forced labor in the construction, textile, and food industries. The ILO reported that an estimated one million illegal migrant workers may be victims of labor trafficking in Russia. Moscow remains a transit point for women trafficked from Uzbekistan and Armenia to the United Arab Emirates for purposes of sexual exploitation. Men from Western Europe and the United States travel to Western Russia, specifically St. Petersburg, for the purpose of child sex tourism; however, law enforcement authorities report a decrease in the number of cases of child sex tourism and attribute this to aggressive police investigations and Russian cooperation with foreign law enforcement.

The Government of the Russian Federation 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 fifth consecutive year for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking over the previous year, particularly in providing assistance to victims of trafficking. Comprehensive trafficking victim assistance legislation, which would address key deficiencies, has been pending before the Duma since 2003 and was neither passed nor enacted in 2007. Although a few municipalities across Russia have victim identification and referral systems, relatively few victims assisted were referred by government officials in 2007. During the reporting period, the federal government provided no funding to antitrafficking NGOs while it gave approximately $40 million to other NGOs involved in civic and social work issues throughout Russia; during the previous reporting period, the Public Chamber reportedly provided funding to three anti-trafficking NGOs. Russia again increased the total number of trafficking investigations and demonstrated improved efforts to identify labor trafficking cases. Although modest improvements were noted in particular regions, the Russian government has yet to provide comprehensive victim assistance, covering the entire process from victim identification through reintegration and support systematically and throughout the country. Victim identification and assistance remains the weakest component of Russia's anti-trafficking efforts.

Recommendations for Russia: Develop a comprehensive national strategy that acknowledges the gravity of Russia's multi-faceted human trafficking problem and allocates adequate resources to address deficiencies in victim assistance; designate funding from the national budget and coordinate responsibilities to relevant ministries to carry out anti-trafficking efforts; establish an official coordinating body with the authority to implement a national strategy and evaluate ministerial efforts to combat trafficking; make significant national efforts to coordinate and enact victim assistance, protection, and rehabilitation; increase the number of communities with formal procedures for victim identification and referral; consider passing regulations that permit assets seized from convicted traffickers to be allocated to programs that assist and protect victims of trafficking; and create a central repository for prosecution, conviction, and sentencing data for trafficking cases.

Prosecution

The Government of the Russian Federation demonstrated 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, and aggravating circumstances may extend penalties up to 10 years' imprisonment; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. In 2007, police conducted 139 trafficking investigations; 104 of these investigations were sexual exploitation cases and 35 were forced labor cases. This total is a 10 percent increase from the 125 investigations conducted in 2006 and continues the annual trend of increased prosecutions since the statute was passed in 2003. It is difficult to ascertain the exact number of prosecutions and convictions conducted in 2007 because the government did not collect and maintain such statistics; prosecution, conviction, and sentencing data was obtained by analyzing media coverage of known trafficking cases. Authorities conducted at least 36 prosecution cases – involving 103 traffickers – during the reporting period, compared to 26 prosecution cases in 2007. Likewise, at least 46 traffickers were convicted in 2007, an increase from 13 in 2006. At least 45 traffickers faced imposed prison sentences. Despite this progress, some police noted that the anti-trafficking law remains underutilized because national directives on its implementation have not yet been issued. In July 2006, the Duma passed asset forfeiture legislation that permits prosecutors to seize the assets of convicted persons, including traffickers; however, there were no reports that the law was used against traffickers in 2007. Russia identified a total of four civilian government officials complicit in human trafficking. Of those four complicit officials, one was convicted and sentenced to four years and six months' imprisonment; the remaining three were arrested and their cases were still pending at the time of this report.

Forced labor of young conscripts within Russia's military remained a concern. In 2007, five military officials were investigated and arrested for labor exploitation of military conscripts under their command.

Protection

Russia demonstrated no significant progress in improving its inadequate efforts to protect and assist victims. Russia's Foreign Ministry reported assisting the return to Russia of some victims of trafficking from other countries. Although several municipalities across Russia have cooperation agreements between NGOs and local authorities to refer victims for assistance, relatively few of the 226 victims assisted in 2007 were referred by government officials. A large portion of assisted victims were identified abroad and referred by foreign NGOs or IOM for assistance; the number of victims identified in Russia remained low, suggesting that Russia's current ability to identify victims is inadequate.

Although some local governments provided in-kind and financial support to some anti-trafficking NGOs, the majority of aid to NGOs providing victim assistance continued to be provided by international donors. Most government-provided assistance to victims is from regional and municipal-run domestic violence and homeless shelters; the quality of these shelters vary and, because they are not trafficking-specific, they are ill-equipped to provide for the specific legal, medical, and psychological needs of trafficking victims. Also, foreign and Russian victims found in regions where they do not reside legally are often denied access to state-run general health care and social assistance programs, as local governments restrict these services to local residents. In 2007, there were reported cases of sympathetic and enthusiastic local law enforcement referring victims to local NGOs that did not have the resources to provide the necessary services – shelter, and psychological, medical, and legal assistance – requested by the police. Russia lacks a government program for the specific assistance of victims of trafficking. A general witness protection program has been inadequate in helping trafficking victims; it only helped two during the reporting period. The comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, in development since 2003 would strengthen assistance to trafficking victims, better define the rights of trafficking victims, allocate specified funding for anti-trafficking programs; and create a centralized authority to coordinate national antitrafficking efforts. Police in various communities continued to encourage victims to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions, a positive trend noted in the past few years. Victims are permitted to reside in Russia pending the investigation and prosecution of their trafficker.

Prevention

Russia demonstrated minimal prevention efforts during the reporting period. A few local governments provided modest funding or in-kind support to NGOs to conduct public awareness campaigns targeting at-risk populations. Various national ministries continued operating informational websites about trafficking. State-controlled media aired several documentaries about trafficking and featured frequent stories throughout Russia during the reporting period which aided public awareness. Russia actively monitors immigration and emigration patterns for signs of trafficking. The government did not take specific steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. Russian law permits the government to prosecute Russian nationals who travel abroad to engage in child sex tourism. In 2007, one Russian man was charged and incarcerated by the Cambodian government for the commercial exploitation of a child; the case was pending at the time of this report.

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