U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Belarus

Belarus (Tier 2)

Belarus is a country of origin and transit for women and children trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation in Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Germany, Israel, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, and Serbia and Montenegro. Victims are trafficked mostly from more economically depressed areas, where traffickers recruit through employment, marriage, and travel agencies and have links to organized crime and narcotics trafficking.

The Government of Belarus does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government showed increased action with respect to prevention and prosecution efforts, even in light of limited resources. Commitment to protection of victims, however, remains very weak.


The government better acknowledges the trafficking problem, but resources and expertise are inadequate and hinder successful prevention efforts. The government expanded outreach in the regions and cooperates with NGOs in giving educational presentations at schools. The government implemented a state program to combat trafficking in persons and prostitution, which outlines a 5-year strategy to focus on prevention and other vital areas of response. The government sponsors a modest TV ad campaign on state television for young women to prepare against the dangers of trafficking through pre-departure information and contingency plans in the event of dangerous situations. The state passport offices in Belarus display informational leaflets, created by NGOs, advertising hotline numbers to call for travel advice.


Belarus' criminal code includes specific penalties for trafficking for the purposes of sexual or other kinds of exploitation, but the government continues to group trafficking crimes with sexual assault or rape. Investigations are hampered by lack of expertise, but improved due to training by the NGO community and foreign governments. The Interior Ministry opened 90 cases of trafficking women abroad for prostitution and 20 cases of recruitment for sexual exploitation and abduction of minors. A total of 35 defendants reportedly were convicted for trafficking in persons. Belarusian police participated with German police in a criminal investigation involving the trafficking of more than 160 Belarusian women and terminated the operations of 10 organized criminal groups operating in Belarus. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare works to regulate and monitor newspaper ads to ensure each entity is licensed. Belarus has law enforcement agreements with Turkey, Israel, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Moldova, Vietnam, and China, which include a focus on human trafficking. Official corruption, including bribery of law enforcement and border officials, continues to be widespread; and some corrupt government officials reportedly facilitate trafficking by turning a blind eye to traffickers.


The Government of Belarus provides limited assistance to returning victims through state clinics and labor and welfare offices. The lack of trafficking-specific expertise prevents most victims from receiving comprehensive care. Victims deported from destination countries for visa violations return to verbal harassment by police who treat them as criminals. The Criminal Code outlines procedures for victim statements and confidentiality, and authorizes police protection; however, there are no secure shelters or police escorts. There is no information regarding government assistance for foreign victims in Belarus.


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