U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Turkey

Turkey (Tier 2 Watch List)

Turkey is a country of destination for women and girls trafficked primarily for the purpose of sexual exploitation, as well as domestic service. Most victims come from Eastern European countries and the former Soviet Union, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldova. To a lesser extent, Turkey is a transit country to Western Europe.

The Government of Turkey does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Turkey's actions merited a Tier 2 designation in September 2003 for conducting focused legal reform and law enforcement actions. The government is placed on Tier 2 Watch List because many of its efforts, especially in the area of protection, began early in 2004 and require time to show adequate results. While it showed some follow-through on prosecutions and convictions, it did not conduct any preventive information or education programs for the public-at-large. The government should fully implement its new victim referral protocol, aggressively execute joint investigations with source countries, and provide tangible evidence that it has discontinued its practice of "dumping" victims across borders without screening.


Trafficking for any purpose is specifically criminalized in Turkey, with penalties exceeding 20 years' imprisonment if conducted as part of an organized activity. There were some reports of government officials involved in trafficking. During the reporting period, the government sentenced six defendants for trafficking, including two police officers, up to four years and two months in prison. The officers were expelled from the force. The government also initiated eight prosecutorial investigations. While the government's cooperation agreements previously focused primarily on smuggling, its focus on trafficking improved. Police and judicial personnel participated in NGO training sessions and an inter-agency police task force based in Istanbul was established to investigate trafficking as a part of organized and financial crimes.


The government improved its protection efforts late in the reporting period. Authorities conducted few ad hoc repatriations until it signed a formal agreement with the IOM in April 2004. The government established a protocol with an NGO whom it agreed to notify before conducting raids and upon identification of potential victims, but it failed to fund the shelter aspect of the protocol. The government's previous practice of returning victims to source countries without proper screening or notification was expected to improve through implementation of the repatriation and NGO cooperation agreements. Despite the central government's efforts to institute the protocol, some local authorities failed to follow victim protection guidelines; the central government took some remedial measures during the reporting period. The government adopted a new policy to provide full medical assistance to victims of trafficking and extended humanitarian visas from one to six months.


The government initiated some prevention efforts in spring of 2004, but efforts required focusing and strengthening. According to local experts, the government's previous practice of "dumping" victims in neighboring countries made them vulnerable to re-trafficking by local recruiters and traffickers. The government amended Turkish labor laws to mandate that contracts for foreign entertainers be prepared in the entertainer's language. The government also began reviewing work contracts to identify potential trafficking. The Prime Minister's Directorate on Women's Issues conducted a seminar for journalists and NGOs to increase awareness amongst advocate communities, but the public remained largely uninformed about trafficking in Turkey. In April 2004, the government drafted agreements with two source countries to promote greater cooperation on trafficking.


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