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Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Kazakhstan

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Kazakhstan, 14 June 2010, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
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.

KAZAKHSTAN (Tier 2 Watch List)

Kazakhstan is a source, destination, and to a lesser extent, a transit country for women and girls subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution, and for men and women in conditions of forced labor. Kazakhstani women and children are trafficked within Kazakhstan and also to the United Arab Emirates, Russia, China, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Greece, and Israel for the purpose of forced prostitution. Women and girls from Uzbekistan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Ukraine are subjected to forced prostitution in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstani men, women, and boys as well as men from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia are subjected to conditions of forced labor in domestic servitude and also in the tobacco, cotton, and meat processing industries in Kazakhstan. Twenty-five percent of the school-age children in a region of southern Kazakhstan were forced to pick cotton during the 2009 harvest.

The Government of Kazakhstan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these efforts, the government did not demonstrate significant efforts to identify and assist foreign victims or victims of forced labor and did not vigorously prosecute, convict, or criminally punish any officials for government complicity, including local officials complicit in the use of forced labor during the annual cotton harvest; therefore, Kazakhstan is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. In 2009, approximately 900 school children ages seven to 17 were forced to pick cotton by local government officials in a region of Southern Kazakhstan during the fall cotton harvest; although local prosecutors began an investigation, no authorities were prosecuted, convicted, or criminally punished for their actions. Despite recognition as a destination for foreign victims trafficked for forced prostitution and forced labor, the government only identified and assisted three foreign victims during the reporting period. The government also demonstrated only modest efforts to identify victims of forced labor in 2009 – only 12 Kazakhstani victims of forced labor were identified by the government. Over the last year, the government allocated $55,000 to an NGO service provider to open a trafficking shelter in Astana in September 2009. It also sustained a high level of funding for public awareness efforts.

Recommendations for Kazakhstan: Take substantive action to end the use of forced labor during the annual cotton harvest; increase efforts to identify foreign victims of both forced prostitution and forced labor; increase the number of foreign victims of trafficking who receive trafficking victim assistance; increase efforts to identify labor trafficking victims, including by ensuring authorities screen for potential victims of forced labor among those detained during immigration raids and refer those identified victims for assistance; investigate, prosecute, convict, and criminally punish all government officials complicit in trafficking, including those officials involved in forcing or facilitating the use of forced labor during the cotton harvest; continue to increase the number of victims who receive government-funded assistance by increasing funding to anti-trafficking NGOs; and conduct trafficking awareness campaigns aimed at reducing the demand for both labor trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.


The Kazakhstan government demonstrated some progress in its law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking over the reporting period; however, it failed to vigorously prosecute, convict, and criminally punish government officials complicit in trafficking, including those officials who forced children to pick cotton during the 2009 harvest. Kazakhstan prohibits trafficking in persons for both forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation through Articles 128, 133, 125(3)(b), 126(3)(b), and 270 of its penal code, which prescribe penalties of up to 15 years' imprisonment – penalties sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Police conducted 49 trafficking investigations, compared with 44 investigations in 2008. Authorities prosecuted 35 cases in 2009, compared with 30 prosecutions in 2008. A total of 24 trafficking offenders were convicted in 2009, the same number as in 2008. These numbers included 21 offenders convicted for sex trafficking offenses, up from 18 in 2008, and three offenders convicted for forced labor offenses, down from six convictions in 2008. Only one trafficker received a suspended sentence and served no time in prison. Eleven sex trafficking offenders were issued sentences ranging between 5.5 and 10 years' imprisonment and nine sex trafficking offenders were issued sentences ranging from two to five years' imprisonment; three labor traffickers were issued sentences ranging from five to seven years' imprisonment. The Kazakhstani police provided victim identification and trafficking investigation training for 79 migration and criminal police, funded anti-trafficking training for officers in law enforcement academies in Russia and Turkmenistan, and partnered with other foreign governments to provide training to 1,141 Kazakhstani government officials. The Supreme Court also allocated $20,000 for three trafficking seminars for 44 judges, 13 prosecutors, and seven police officers.

The government did not demonstrate significant efforts to combat government complicity in trafficking during the reporting period. In November 2009, prosecutors in a region of southern Kazakhstan investigated local government and school officials accused of forcing approximately 900 school children ages 7 through 17 to pick cotton during the fall harvest. One student was reportedly assaulted by the deputy director of his school when he refused to pick cotton; other students were reportedly threatened with receiving bad exam grades if they did not pick cotton. No officials were prosecuted, convicted, or punished for forcing children to pick cotton, although 27 school officials were reprimanded or warned – penalties that are not sufficiently stringent to deter the practice of local officials forcing children to pick cotton. In September 2009, police launched an investigation into the use of forced labor in the clearing of Chaldai forest; local officials allegedly used their authority to protect the owner of the labor company, who was the nephew of the local mayor. The government did not prosecute, convict, or punish any of these or other government officials complicit in trafficking in 2009.


The government demonstrated some efforts to assist and protect Kazakhstani victims; however, only three foreign victims were identified and assisted by authorities and very few victims of labor trafficking were identified, despite the fact Kazakhstan is a significant destination country for foreign victims and also for forced labor. NGOs continued to report a lack of awareness among local police and government officials about labor trafficking, causing many potential labor trafficking victims to go unidentified and unassisted during the year. In 2009, authorities conducted a series of immigration raids at factories and other places of employment highly vulnerable to forced labor; however, no foreign victims and only 12 Kazakhstani victims of forced labor were identified out of at least 17,082 workers encountered. In 2009, the Ministry of Interior established a new hotline exclusively for the assistance of Kazakhstani victims of trafficking. IOM identified 98 victims in 2009, compared with 64 victims identified in 2008. The government formally identified 59 victims – 12 Kazakhstani victims of forced labor, as well as 44 Kazakhstani and three foreign victims of sex trafficking – and provided all with shelter, food, clothing, transportation, and other services amounting to approximately $84,000, an increase from $46,000 allocated in 2008. The government allocated $55,000 from this total to an NGO service provider to open a trafficking shelter in Astana in September 2009. Local authorities funded the salaries of three employees of an NGO-run, foreign funded trafficking shelter in Almaty. In total, 95 victims of forced prostitution and forced labor were assisted by IOM, privately-funded NGOs, and government-funded programs in 2009. NGOs reported that foreign victims were sometimes denied access to local medical facilities due to a lack of health insurance or temporary residency permits. Foreign victims who agreed to cooperate with law enforcement were permitted to remain in Kazakhstan for the duration of the criminal investigation; however, no foreign victims received temporary residence permits in 2009. Although some victims cooperated with authorities during the initial investigation, some victims refused to testify in court for fear of retribution from traffickers. There were no reports of victims punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.


The government continued its strong general trafficking prevention efforts; however, local officials in southern Kazakhstan did not prevent the use of forced labor during the 2009 fall cotton harvest. In 2009, the government allocated $200,000 for a nation-wide anti-trafficking awareness campaign consisting of 189 hours of anti-trafficking programming broadcast on television and radio and 322 anti-trafficking articles published in newspapers. The government also provided approximately $63,000 to NGOs to produce and disseminate trafficking awareness materials and also to conduct several trafficking roundtable discussions with students and teachers during school hours. Most trafficking awareness efforts in 2009 were targeted at potential victims of trafficking, however, and they did not address the demand for trafficking.

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