U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan (Tier 2)

Azerbaijan is primarily a source and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women from Azerbaijan are trafficked to Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (U. A. E. ) for purposes of sexual exploitation. Men are trafficked to Russia for the purpose of forced labor. Men and women are also trafficked to Iran, Pakistan, and India for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Azerbaijani children are trafficked to Turkey for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and to Russia for the purpose of forced labor. Reports of internal trafficking also continued, including that of women for sexual exploitation, men for forced labor in the construction industry, and children for the purpose of child begging. Azerbaijan serves as a transit country for victims from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Moldova trafficked to Turkey and the U. A. E. for sexual exploitation.

The Government of Azerbaijan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In October 2006, the government opened and fully funded a shelter for trafficking victims, and increased investigative and victim identification training for law enforcement officials. In 2006, the government also increased investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of traffickers, and removed its anti-trafficking unit from within the Ministry of Internal Affairs' Organized Crime Unit to become a new, stand-alone unit. The government should develop and implement a nation-wide victim referral mechanism and ensure that a nationwide toll-free victims' assistance hotline becomes operational. The government should increase its trafficking prevention efforts, as well as its efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence government officials complicit in trafficking.


The government demonstrated improvement in its law enforcement efforts. Azerbaijan's 2005 Law on the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons prohibits both sexual exploitation and forced labor; punishment prescribed by the law ranges from 5 to 15 years' imprisonment and is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties for other grave crimes, such as sexual assault. For the first time, in 2006 the Government of Azerbaijan prosecuted and convicted traffickers under its new trafficking in persons law. During 2006, authorities conducted 192 trafficking investigations, up from 160 investigations conducted in 2005. Azerbaijan prosecuted 164 traffickers, up from 153 prosecutions in 2005. In 2006, 155 traffickers were convicted, up from 93 convictions in 2005. Forty-eight of the 155 convicted traffickers were sentenced to time in prison. The remaining 107 traffickers were sentenced to hard labor or community service, or received administrative charges, fines, or suspended sentences. The Special Anti-Trafficking Police Unit showed progress, although the government should increase its capacity to launch more aggressive trafficking investigations. Concerns remain that low-level civil servants and local law enforcement may be receiving bribes to facilitate trafficking.


The Government of Azerbaijan demonstrated progress in its efforts to protect and assist victims. In October 2006, the government opened a long-anticipated shelter, which provides victims of trafficking with short-term care and access to legal, medical, and psychological services. Although all identified victims were referred to the shelter, its effectiveness was hampered by the lack of a formal nationwide victim identification mechanism and a nationwide toll-free trafficking in persons hotline; from October 11 to the end of 2006, only four victims were identified. The government should develop and implement formal nation-wide victim identification procedures, and ensure that the nationwide toll-free hotline becomes functional. In 2006, the Ministry of Interior conducted victim identification and assistance training for NGOs, employees of the Police Academy, the Ministry of Justice's Legal Education Center, and the Education Center of the Prosecutor General's Office. Victims may apply for temporary residency permits for up to one year, and are permitted to apply for permanent residency status. If victims cooperate with law enforcement, they are entitled to stay in Azerbaijan until the completion of their court case. There is concern that identified child trafficking victims may not have received adequate assistance or care.


Azerbaijan's anti-trafficking prevention efforts remained modest. The government periodically monitors its anti-trafficking efforts and makes the results public. In 2006, the government paid for the printing and distribution of anti-trafficking pamphlets. In 2006, the Ministry of Education supported school information programs run by domestic NGOs.


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