U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Ukraine

Ukraine (Tier 2 Watch List)

Ukraine is primarily a source country for men, women, and children trafficked to Europe, the Middle East, and Russia for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Recent studies indicate an increase in internal trafficking for all forms of exploitation and a growing problem of trafficking in minors. Ukraine continued to serve as a significant transit country for Asian and Moldovan victims trafficked to Western destinations.

The Government of Ukraine does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Ukraine has been placed on Tier 2 Watch List because of its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts and its commitment to take additional future steps over the next year, particularly in the area of victim protection and prosecution of trafficking-related complicity. Ukraine's new government, which assumed power in late 2004, is expected to respond more effectively to institutional weaknesses and corruption, which hindered the previous government's anti-trafficking efforts. The government should create a special witness protection program for trafficking victims, expand the legal definition of trafficking to conform with international requirements, ensure the appropriation of consistent resources for the anti-trafficking unit, and conduct sensitivity training to reduce victim blaming and breaches of victim confidentiality.

Prosecution

Ukraine's Criminal Code remained inadequate to address the full range of trafficking in Ukraine over the reporting period. The Ministry of Interior initiated 269 new cases, completed 72 investigations, and charged 138 persons with trafficking crimes. A total of 68 trafficking prosecutions were started. The courts convicted traffickers in 67 cases, an increase from the previous year. Regrettably, only 22 persons were sentenced to time in prison, the rest receiving probation. During the reporting period, the government successfully dismantled 17 organized crime groups involved in trafficking cases. Trafficking-related complicity and official involvement continued to be a problem; there were persistent reports of high-level official intervention, which may have resulted in significant sentence reductions. The government did not investigate or prosecute any cases of trafficking-related corruption during the year.

Protection

The Government of Ukraine failed to provide adequate protection and rehabilitation services to victims of trafficking in 2004. The lack of a credible victim witness protection program impaired the government's ability to protect victims, and as a result few victims were willing to cooperate in prosecutions. Ukrainian courts showed a lack of sensitivity to victims during court proceedings; trafficking victims were characterized as prostitutes, rather than victims of a serious crime. The Ministry of Family and Youth Affairs coordinated some rehabilitation services, but the majority of funding for these programs came from international donors. Commendably, the government screened all victims repatriated or deported from abroad to the port of Odesa and referred them to a local NGO for services. The government instructed all diplomatic officials abroad to accelerate procedures for identifying Ukrainian victims and providing them with appropriate travel documents.

Prevention

Ukraine's trafficking prevention efforts were woefully inadequate over the last year. The country's Comprehensive Program for Combating Trafficking was not implemented well in 2004, as it lacked both financing and practical measures needed for its effective implementation. As a result, internal trafficking was not addressed. In December 2004, the government established an advisory anti-trafficking working group to improve coordination of the largely ineffectual Inter-Ministerial Group. The government continued to rely on NGOs and international organizations to conduct the bulk of prevention programs. However, it provided minor support for their activities, primarily by distributing literature throughout the government and in public schools. In 2004, the Ministry of Family and Youth Affairs conducted outreach to some rural youth and provided mortgage assistance to young families.

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