U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Uzbekistan
|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 - Uzbekistan, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be3e2c.html [accessed 27 April 2015]|
Uzbekistan (Tier 3)
Uzbekistan is a source country for women and girls trafficked to the U. A. E. , Israel, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Thailand, and Turkey for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Some women from other Central Asian countries and the People's Republic of China are trafficked through Uzbekistan. Men are trafficked to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Russia for purposes of forced labor in the construction, cotton, and tobacco industries. Men and women are also trafficked internally for the purposes of domestic servitude and forced labor in the agricultural and construction industries. In 2005, IOM estimated that more than 500,000 Uzbeks are trafficked annually.
The Government of Uzbekistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Uzbekistan is placed on Tier 3 for a second consecutive year. Although the government demonstrated minimal prevention efforts and held inter-agency meetings in March 2007 to discuss trafficking, it again made no significant efforts to improve law enforcement and victim protection and failed to address key legal and infrastructure concerns cited in the previous Report. Uzbekistan made no progress in the adoption of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation which has been pending since 2003; failed to amend its criminal code to increase trafficking penalties; and did not provide any tangible support – financial or in-kind – to the country's two anti-trafficking shelters. Uzbekistan also failed to approve its National Action Plan on trafficking. The government must address these deficiencies in order to improve overall anti-trafficking efforts in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan did not demonstrate a pattern of vigorous law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking in persons during the reporting period. Uzbekistan's current laws do not criminalize all forms of trafficking in persons. Some articles of the government's criminal code are used to prosecute sex trafficking cases and some labor trafficking cases, though current laws do not adequately criminalize all forms of forced labor. Penalties prescribed under the trafficking-related statutes of the criminal code range from five to eight years; however, all convicted persons who are given sentences of less than 10 years are granted amnesty and thus serve no time in prison. Trafficking offenders are therefore not adquately punished. The penalties under the trafficking-related statutes are commensurate with punishments prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. Reports continued of government officials involved in trafficking-related bribery and fraud. In February 2007, a Ministry of Internal Affairs Lieutenant Colonel was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempting to bribe and threaten a victim of trafficking.
The government failed to provide direct support to the majority of victims and demonstrated few substantive efforts to improve victim assistance and protection during the reporting period; one victim was provided with housing and assistance by government officials in October 2006, which is a notable and encouraging sign of increased awareness of victim assistance needs in Uzbekistan. Airport police continued to refer some identified female victims to the NGO-run trafficking shelters, although NGOs and international organizations provided the bulk of victim assistance. In 2006, NGOs reported assisting 681 victims. The government, however, provided no victim or witness protection. While the government encouraged victims to assist in investigations, many victims were afraid to provide testimony or information for fear of retribution by their traffickers. Because traffickers continued to serve no time in prison, some victims may be discouraged from participating in legal proceedings; however, the government acknowledges that voluntary cooperation of victims is critical to effective law enforcement efforts.
Uzbekistan demonstrated modest prevention efforts during the reporting period. State-controlled television and radio stations aired programs and NGO produced public service announcements that discussed human trafficking. State media also continued to advertise 10 regional hotlines run by NGOs. Although the government directed Border Guards at airports to give more scrutiny to unaccompanied young women traveling to recognized destination countries, Border Guards and Customs officials need more training in trafficking detection and prevention. Uzbekistan has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.