Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Special Cases - Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is not listed on the report this year because available information is insufficient to substantiate a significant number of victims in the country.

Scope and Magnitude. Turkmenistan appears to be a source country for Turkmen women trafficked to Turkey, Algeria, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, Thailand, the U.A.E., Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Iran, and Israel for the purpose of sexual exploitation; Turkey is also a destination for women trafficked for domestic servitude. It is also a source for men trafficked to Turkey for the purpose of forced labor, specifically in textile sweatshops. Women may be trafficked internally from rural provinces to larger cities for the purpose of sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. According to IOM, there were 20 identified Turkmen victims trafficked to Turkey in 2007.

Government Efforts. Although the Government of Turkmenistan does not publicly acknowledge trafficking as a problem and does not actively investigate cases of trafficking, it did make significant efforts by adopting the "Law on the Battle against Trafficking in Persons" in December 2007. The law identifies responsible ministries within the government to combat trafficking and requires authorities to develop measures to prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and assist victims. While adoption of the new anti-trafficking law is a positive step forward, additional legislation is needed to provide necessary implementation of the law. Amending the criminal code to provide penalties for trafficking in persons would also be a significant effort.

Although there are no laws prohibiting trafficking in persons, traffickers may be prosecuted under various articles of the penal code. The government did not prosecute any trafficking cases or convict or sentence any traffickers over the reporting period. There was no dedicated funding for law enforcement agencies to address trafficking in 2007. Although the government did not provide specialized training for government officials on how to recognize, investigate, and prosecute instances of trafficking, 30 government officials from various ministries attended a seminar on trafficking conducted by IOM in November 2007. Corruption remained a serious problem throughout society and within the government and corruption among migration and travel authorities is believed to contribute to the trafficking of women abroad. Although there was anecdotal evidence of bribery of government officials, there were no reports of direct involvement of government officials in human trafficking.

The Government of Turkmenistan did not provide medical assistance, counseling, shelter, or rehabilitative services to victims of trafficking nor did it supply funding to foreign or domestic antitrafficking NGOs to provide services to victims; however, the government did allow IOM to remain in the country and to continue to provide services. The new law passed in December 2007 has provisions for victim care facilities and guarantees protection and assistance for victims of trafficking. Government personnel employ no formal victim identification procedures, though some law enforcement officers reportedly referred victims to NGOs for assistance on an ad-hoc basis. The government does not encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. At the same time, there is evidence suggesting that in some cases, law enforcement officers detained and interrogated victims in order to obtain information, though there were no reports of victim imprisonment. Burdensome administrative procedures often impede victims from obtaining civil legal redress against their traffickers.

Turkmenistan did not sponsor any anti-trafficking awareness campaigns in 2007. The vast majority of the public is unaware of human trafficking and is not sufficiently informed about the possible dangers of working abroad. The government does not monitor the trafficking situation within its borders, although the new law provides a strategy to do so. Adequate implementation of the new law would address current deficiencies and would advance the government's ability to combat trafficking in persons by initiating trafficking prosecutions, and raising general public awareness.


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