Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September 2014, 13:07 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Tajikistan

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Tajikistan, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30c8f12.html [accessed 1 October 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)

Tajikistan is a source country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor. Women from Tajikistan are subjected to forced prostitution in the United Arab Emirates and Russia, and to a lesser extent, in Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and within Tajikistan. These women often transit through Russia and Kyrgyzstan en route to their destination country. Increasingly, Tajik women and girls are forced into prostitution in Afghanistan, sometimes through forced marriages to Afghan men. IOM estimates that a significant percentage of Tajikistan's approximately one million voluntary labor migrants become victims of forced labor. Men from Tajikistan are subjected to forced labor in agriculture and construction in Russia and, to a lesser extent, in Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. In the reporting period, one Tajik victim was identified in Uzbekistan and another in the United States. There are reports of Tajik children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, including forced begging, within Tajikistan and in Afghanistan. NGOs that monitored the 2011 cotton harvest reported that the overall use of forced labor was reduced compared to previous years. There were isolated reports, however, that some Tajik children and possibly some adults were exploited in agriculture – mainly during the annual cotton harvest. Traffickers have increasingly attempted to evade detection and prosecution in Tajikistan by basing their operations in other countries.

The Government of Tajikistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government continued to make progress in reducing the use of forced labor in the annual cotton harvest, and convicted more traffickers under its trafficking statute than the year before. The government did not, however, fund or operate shelters for trafficking victims, and identification of victims in Tajikistan and in foreign countries by Tajik embassies was lacking.

Recommendations for Tajikistan: Continue to enforce the prohibition against forced labor of children and adults in the annual cotton harvest by inspecting cotton fields during the harvest, in collaboration with local government officials and civil society organizations; continue to advertise Tajik laws against forced labor, and target this message to teachers and parents; vigorously investigate and prosecute suspected trafficking offenses, especially those involving forced labor, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; impose stricter, appropriate penalties on local officials who force individuals to participate in the cotton harvest; amend the existing counter-trafficking law to improve victim protection measures; develop a formal victim identification and referral mechanism; strengthen the capacity and awareness of Tajik embassies and consulates to proactively identify victims and refer them to protective services, including via repatriation; ensure that sex trafficking victims are not penalized for prostitution offenses; continue to build partnerships with foreign counterparts in order to conduct joint law enforcement investigations and repatriate Tajik victims from abroad; provide victim identification and victim sensitivity training to border guard and law enforcement authorities; provide financial or increased in-kind assistance to existing protection services for trafficking victims, including shelters; and work to guarantee the safety of witnesses and victims during the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases.

Prosecution

The Government of Tajikistan increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Article 130.1 of the criminal code prohibits both forced 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. The government reported six convictions of traffickers under Article 130.1 in 2011, compared with two convictions under the same law in 2010. Two traffickers received sentences of 8.5 years' imprisonment, two received eight-year sentences, and the remaining two have yet to be sentenced. The government may have investigated and prosecuted trafficking crimes under other articles in the criminal code but did not provide information on such cases. The Government of Tajikistan cooperated with Russian and Moldovan law enforcement to investigate a suspected trafficking crime in one case and repatriate a Tajik victim in another case. In partnership with international organizations, it continued to conduct a 26-hour anti-trafficking course as part of the Ministry of Interior Academy's training curriculum for police officials. In 2011, 216 police academy students completed the training.

In 2011, the government certified NGO representatives to monitor the cotton harvest for a second year in a row. It appointed a Ministry of Labor official to accompany IOM representatives during the fall cotton harvest to meet local officials in cotton-growing districts to reinforce the prohibition on forced child labor. The government promptly investigated isolated cases of school administrators forcing children into labor when presented with complaints. While there were no criminal convictions, authorities reprimanded or fined local officials. In 2011, a border guard took a bribe from a trafficker in an airport, where the trafficker was accompanying a potential victim of trafficking to Dubai. The border guard was given an administrative penalty, but not a criminal sentence.

Protection

The government continued limited efforts to identify and assist trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government does not have a systematic procedure for identifying and referring victims for assistance. The government has not yet formalized victim referral procedures through a working group established in 2010. Because Tajik law enforcement officials do not differentiate between women in prostitution and sex trafficking victims and did not attempt to identify trafficking victims among women found in prostitution, sex trafficking victims were likely penalized for prostitution crimes. During the reporting period, the government identified and referred six victims to IOM in 2011, compared with 32 victims identified and eight victims referred in 2010. NGOs and IOM provided protective services to a total of 85 trafficking victims in 2011 – including 57 men who were labor trafficking victims – compared with 104 victims in 2010. Although the national government did not provide financial assistance to any NGOs or other organizations that afforded specialized assistance to trafficking victims in 2011, the Khujand city government continued to provide in-kind assistance – including food, clothing, and reintegration assistance – to a shelter, and the national government continued to provide free utilities for two adjacent shelters in Dushanbe. Victims in the shelters were not detained involuntarily. There was no information whether the government encouraged victims to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions.

Prevention

Tajikistan continued efforts to raise awareness of trafficking during the reporting period. The Inter-Ministerial Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons (IMCCTP) again disseminated a directive to local officials for the effective implementation of laws prohibiting the use of forced child labor. The IMCCTP continued its quarterly anti-trafficking dialogue meetings attended by representatives of government ministries, international organizations, and local NGOs, and expanded its membership to include representatives from three more government agencies. Local governments continued to provide meeting space, transportation, and local publicity for awareness-raising events conducted by NGOs and international organizations. With international organizations and a foreign government, the government co-funded a nationwide 15-day anti-trafficking event in May 2011 that included trafficking awareness events for hundreds of school children. The government has an action plan to combat human trafficking for 2011-2013. Efforts by the government to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts – seen through the prosecution of clients of prostitution – were mitigated by the governments' punishment of women in prostitution without ensuring that they were not victims of trafficking. The government continued to issue birth certificates routinely to Tajik citizens in 2011, but many citizens in rural areas did not request or know how to obtain those documents.

Search Refworld

Countries