Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014, 14:56 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Tajikistan

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Tajikistan, 14 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c1883c032.html [accessed 23 July 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.

TAJIKISTAN (Tier 2 Watch List)

Tajikistan is a source country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution, and for men, women, and children in conditions of forced labor. Women from Tajikistan are subjected to forced prostitution in the UAE, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. These women often transit Kyrgyzstan before reaching their destination country. IOM estimates that a significant percentage of Tajikistan's one million labor migrants are victims of forced labor, primarily after voluntarily migrating to Russia in search of work. Men from Tajikistan are subjected to conditions of forced labor in Russia's agricultural and construction sectors and, to a lesser extent, the same sectors in Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. Tajik children are exploited within Tajikistan during the annual cotton harvest. Tajik children are also trafficked within Tajikistan for prostitution and forced labor, including forced begging. Some adult government employees, including doctors and teachers, were required by Tajik authorities to pick cotton for up to two weeks in lieu of their regular duties during the 2009 cotton harvest. Some teachers were forced to pick cotton in addition to their regular duties and were not compensated for this labor.

The Government of Tajikistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making made significant efforts to do so. Despite these efforts, the government did not demonstrate progress in ending its practice of compelling adults and children to pick cotton during the annual harvest and did not investigate, prosecute, convict, or punish any officials complicit in this forced labor. Therefore, Tajikistan is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year. A partnership that the government had forged with law enforcement authorities in Dubai led to the identification and repatriation of at least 10 victims of forced prostitution in February 2010.

In April 2009, the president issued a decree banning the use of student labor used during the harvest, including forced child labor. In many cotton-growing districts, however, this decree was not implemented. In some cases, local government officials required school administrators to force schoolchildren to work in the cotton fields. Children in many villages were transported directly from school to the fields, often without parental permission. Teachers in many towns threatened students with expulsion, or scolded them in front of their classmates, if they did not comply. Some students were forced to work in the fields as early as age 9, received little or no pay for their labor, and often received no food while working. Unlike in the past, however, schools remained open and students attended class during the cotton harvest.

Recommendations for Tajikistan: Enforce the prohibition of coerced labor of children and adults in the annual cotton harvest through such practices as monitoring school and university attendance and inspecting cotton fields during the harvest; vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, especially those involving forced labor, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, including local officials who force individuals to participate in the cotton harvest, with imprisonment; educate school administrators about Tajik laws against forced labor; increase funding and resources available to the anti-trafficking police unit; continue to build partnerships with foreign counterparts in order to conduct joint law enforcement investigations and repatriate Tajik victims from abroad; develop a formal victim identification and referral mechanism; continue to provide victim identification and victim sensitivity training to border guard and law enforcement authorities; encourage NGO care providers to be present during victim interviews with law enforcement; provide financial or in-kind assistance to existing trafficking shelters; make efforts to improve trafficking data collection and analysis; and conduct a trafficking awareness campaign targeting both rural and urban parts of the country, including raising awareness in rural villages about how offers of marriage may be used to deceive women and traffic them into forced prostitution.

Prosecution

The Government of Tajikistan reported modest anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. However, it again did not address systemic government complicity in the use of forced or coerced labor during the annual cotton harvest. Article 130.1 of the criminal code prohibits both commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, and prescribes penalties of five to 15 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with other serious crimes, such as rape. Although it was added to the criminal code in 2003, officials have not yet successfully used Article 130.1 to prosecute any trafficking offenders. The government has opened at least two cases under Article 130.1 since the government forged a partnership with law enforcement authorities in Dubai.

In 2009, authorities reported investigating at least nine individuals suspected of trafficking, compared with 23 trafficking investigations in 2008. The government reported prosecuting at least three cases for human trafficking against nine individuals in 2009, compared with 23 cases prosecuted in 2008. Courts convicted three trafficking offenders in 2009, compared with 17 convictions reported in 2008. Investigation, prosecution, and conviction data reported in 2008 likely included cases involving baby selling, which is activity that is beyond the scope of this report. The government reported that three individuals were sentenced for terms of five to 10 years' imprisonment for trafficking offenses in 2009.

Tajik law enforcement made concerted efforts to forge stronger anti-trafficking partnerships with counterparts in the UAE and Russia during the reporting period. For example, in February 2010 five Tajik law enforcement officials traveled to Dubai to facilitate a sex trafficking investigation, which subsequently resulted in the repatriation at least three Tajik victims of forced prostitution and the identification of 10 suspected traffickers; the investigation was on-going at the conclusion of the reporting period. Despite this progress, very limited financial resources allocated to the anti-trafficking unit and the general high police turn-over rate continued to stymie Tajikistan's ability to combat human trafficking.

Reports of children and adults forced or coerced to pick cotton in some regions during the 2009 cotton harvest were not followed up by government efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, or punish any officials complicit in this criminal activity. In 2008, authorities investigated 12 local government officials and teachers for forcing school age and university students to pick cotton; some of those education officials were reprimanded for their actions, but no officials were convicted of criminal offenses based on this conduct in 2008.

Protection

The government demonstrated modest efforts to assist trafficking victims during the reporting period. Tajik diplomats in Dubai reported that they provided shelter to nine victims of sex trafficking at the government's Consulate General in 2009. The State National Security Committee referred at least 10 victims to IOM for assistance following a Tajik police investigation in the UAE in February 2010. The government worked with OSCE to develop systematic procedures for victim identification and referral for assistance. However, these procedures were not finalized or implemented during the reporting period. Foreign-funded NGO shelters remained the primary source of victim services – including shelter, medical assistance, rehabilitative counseling, legal aid, and vocational training – available in Tajikistan. The government did not provide financial or in-kind assistance to any NGO or organization that provided victim assistance in 2009. The government, however, increased its diplomatic staffing in the UAE and Russia to assist trafficking victims and to coordinate with local immigration officials in trafficking cases. All the victims identified during this trip were kept in a temporary police detention facility in UAE prior to their repatriation to Tajikistan. In 2009, IOM assisted 48 victims, compared with 38 victims in 2008. In total, IOM and the government identified at least 63 victims of trafficking during the reporting period. Government authorities assisted with the repatriation of 12 victims from Dubai during the reporting period. Victims were encouraged to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions. However, some authorities remained untrained and unskilled in interviewing and caring for victims of trafficking. There were no reports of identified victims fined or otherwise penalized by government officials for unlawful acts as a direct result of their being trafficked during the reporting period.

Prevention

Tajikistan demonstrated limited efforts to raise awareness of trafficking during the reporting period. The government conducted a limited anti-trafficking informational campaign in 2009. The Prosecutor General's Office reported that in 2009 officials appeared on two Tajik television programs to promote awareness of human trafficking. The government did not fund any NGOs that conducted awareness efforts. The officials reported that these programs were shown on a recurring basis. NGO's interviews with sex trafficking victims in Dubai revealed that many recruiters traveled to rural villages in Tajikistan and promised women marriage to wealthy Arab men in the UAE.

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