The Government of Turkey does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Turkey remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by adopting a national action plan, identifying more trafficking victims, training government and security personnel on trafficking issues, and creating a specialized anti-trafficking unit within the Turkish national police (TNP). The government continued prosecuting traffickers, and opened two specialized shelters for female sex trafficking victims. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government ordered the permanent closure of an NGO-run shelter and offered insufficient funding for another NGO-run shelter, resulting in its closure. Interagency cooperation remained weak, leading to obstacles in victim identification. Efforts to identify Turkish victims and protect the growing and highly vulnerable refugee and migrant communities in the country continued to need improvement.


Vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including forced labor offenders; significantly increase proactive victim identification efforts among vulnerable populations, such as refugees, Turkish and foreign women and girls in prostitution, and children begging in the streets; establish a multi-disciplinary victim-centered framework for victim identification and provide specialized care for all victims, including Turkish citizens, children, and male victims; enhance training for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges on a victim-centered approach to effective prosecution of trafficking cases; provide stable funding for shelters and institutionalize partnerships with NGOs, international organizations, and civil society representatives to provide victim services; increase training for law enforcement and other first responders on victim identification, including recognizing the signs of non-physical methods of control used by traffickers; ensure effective interagency cooperation and allocate adequate funding to implement the national action plan; and make trafficking-related data, especially disaggregated statistics on victims and on prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators, available to the public on a regular basis.


The government maintained law enforcement efforts. Article 80 of the penal code prohibits both sex and labor trafficking by use of force, threats, or abuse of power and prescribes punishment of eight to 12 years imprisonment. Article 227(1) prohibits the facilitation of child prostitution and prescribes punishment of four to 10 years imprisonment. Punishments under both articles are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) prosecuted 53 new cases with 257 defendants in 2016, compared to 50 cases with 238 defendants in the first three quarters of 2015. The MOJ continued to prosecute 187 cases with 1,594 defendants from the previous year. Courts convicted 40 traffickers, compared to 37 traffickers in 2015. All convicted traffickers received prison sentences and 37 traffickers also received a fine. Courts acquitted 272 suspected traffickers.

The government created the Department of Combatting Migrant Smuggling and Human Trafficking (DCMH), a specialized unit within the TNP. DCMH consisted of 50 officers and opened regional offices to coordinate with local law enforcement. Observers reported law enforcement did not proactively investigate trafficking offenses related to migrants and refugees. Corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained concerns, and credible observers reported corruption may have inhibited law enforcement action in certain cases during the year. The government reported investigating media and other allegations of official complicity and found no evidence to support the allegations. The government, independently and in cooperation with international organizations, provided anti-trafficking training to law enforcement, coast guard, labor inspectors, social workers, and immigration officials. The government reported cooperating regionally, but provided limited information on international cooperation and extradition; observers reported insufficient international cooperation in combating trafficking.


The government maintained victim protection efforts. The government identified 181 foreign-born trafficking victims, compared to 108 trafficking victims in 2015; of these, 163 victims were female and 18 were male (91 female victims and 17 male in 2015); 29 victims were children (26 in 2015); and 143 were victims of sex trafficking and 38 of forced labor. NGO-and government-run shelters provided 141 of the 181 victims with at least short-term support and a temporary residence permit for 30 days, which could be extended up to three years. The government reported Turkish citizens were victims of trafficking within Turkey, although it did not report identifying any Turkish victims in 2016. International organizations and NGOs reported assisting Turkish victims in Azerbaijan and Israel; however, the government reported no requests for assistance or repatriation of Turkish victims subjected to trafficking abroad.

During the previous reporting period, the government approved a new regulation that further defined the roles and reporting lines across government agencies in the national referral mechanism. Among other things, the regulation required law enforcement to conduct preliminary interviews and refer potential victims to the Directorate General for Migration Management (DGMM), Turkey's lead agency on trafficking issues, to make the official identification. Observers generally reported weak interagency coordination, which may have resulted in some potential victims not receiving official victim status and the government services such status affords. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Family and Social Policies (MOFSP) deployed specialized staff to government-operated migrant and refugee camps to screen camp residents for indicators of trafficking; however, observers reported the government did not make sufficient victim identification efforts in the highly vulnerable refugee and migrant communities located outside of camps or provide sufficient protection resources to address trafficking in these communities. NGOs expressed concern that the government had increasingly removed them from identifying and providing services to victims.

The law entitles trafficking victims to shelter, medical and psycho-social services, work options, education, translation services, temporary residency, repatriation assistance, and legal counseling. The government reported providing funding for three NGO-run shelters in conjunction with funding from an EU project but did not provide budget numbers. After the EU project ended, government-offered funding was not sufficient for NGO-run shelters to continue operations and all three NGO run shelters that provided the majority of support services to trafficking victims since 2004 closed operations during the reporting period. One NGO-run shelter chose to close due to security concerns; the second chose to close in response to the government funding shortfall; and the third was closed by the DGMM. DGMM opened a specialized shelter in the fall of 2016 in Kirikkale, a city near Ankara, and the Ankara municipality opened a specialized shelter in early 2017. The two government-run shelters accommodated female sex trafficking victims and provided psychological support, health care, access to legal aid, and vocational training. After the closure of the NGO-run shelters, DGMM transferred all trafficking victims sheltered in the NGO-run shelters to the government-run shelter in Kirikkale. The government offered facilities for Turkish citizen, male, and child trafficking victims through MOFSP, these services were not specialized for trafficking victims. NGOs reported significant hurdles for victims in the work permissions process, including a requirement that victims move out of trafficking shelters to be eligible to work. The government did not require victims to participate in investigations or court procedures to receive support services. There were no reports that authorities detained, fined, or penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. Turkish law makes witness protection measures available to victims who participate in the investigation and prosecution of their alleged traffickers; the government did not provide statistics on trafficking victims who participated in criminal investigations or legal procedures. The government provided protection to migrants and refugees from returning to countries where they would face hardship.


The government maintained prevention efforts. The government adopted a new national action plan that prioritized strengthening coordination with NGOs and capacity building, and coordinated with an international organization to identify sources of funding. A senior-level national committee formed to coordinate interagency anti-trafficking activities convened for the first time in March 2017. The government ratified the Council of Europe's Convention on Action against Human Trafficking, which has an independent monitoring mechanism. DGMM assumed the management of a national trafficking hotline from an international organization and trained new employees on trafficking issues, though observers reported a decrease in capacity to handle trafficking cases, possibly due to budget shortfalls to maintain the hotline. The government continued to prepare and distribute brochures on trafficking in six languages. DGMM published annual data reports on its website for 2013-2015. Law enforcement developed flowcharts illustrating the national referral mechanism and informed relevant actors on how provincial TNP units combat trafficking. The government continued to implement comprehensive migrant registration protocols by registering approximately three million Syrians and providing birth registrations for newly born refugee children and reported efforts to prevent trafficking among Syrian refugees by fostering educational opportunities within government-operated camps. The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or possible forced labor. Observers reported two Turkish nationals arrested in Moldova for providing children to Turkish nationals engaging in child sex tourism; however, the government identified no cases of child sex tourism within Turkey. Turkish armed forces participated in anti-trafficking training prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. The government did not report providing anti-trafficking training to diplomatic personnel.


As reported over the past five years, Turkey is a destination and transit country, and to a lesser extent source country, for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Trafficking victims in Turkey are primarily from Central and South Asia, Eastern Europe, Syria, Indonesia, and Morocco. Of the 183 victims identified in 2016, Syrians made up the largest number of victims (36) from a single country, followed by Kyrgyz (33), Georgians (23), and Uzbeks (16); the other 73 victims were from a range of countries including Indonesia, Moldova, Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. Some Georgian men and women are subjected to forced labor. Foreign victims are commonly promised jobs in entertainment, modeling, or domestic work, but upon arrival, traffickers force them into forced labor or prostitution in hotels, discos, and homes. Some Turkish men are subjected to trafficking at least in Azerbaijan and Israel. The government and NGOs reported traffickers use psychological coercion, threats, and debt bondage to compel victims into sex trafficking. Traffickers increasingly use social media to recruit victims and employ foreign females as recruiting and management assistants. Unknown numbers of ethnic Roma and refugee children may be vulnerable to trafficking while working on the street collecting garbage, selling flower and other items, or begging.

Turkey continues to host a large refugee population that is increasingly vulnerable to trafficking: approximately three million displaced Syrians, 120,000 Afghans, and 125,000 Iraqis resided in Turkey during the reporting period. Unknown numbers of Syrian refugee and other children engaged in street begging and also reportedly worked in restaurants, textile factories, markets, mechanic or blacksmith shops, and agriculture, at times acting as the breadwinners for their families; some are vulnerable to forced labor. Experts reported children worked long hours, with low wages, in some cases in substandard working conditions. Syrian refugee women and girls are vulnerable to sex trafficking by prostitution rings. Some Syrian and other girls have reportedly been sold into marriages in which they are vulnerable to domestic servitude and sex trafficking. Reports indicate some youth in Turkey, sometimes under coercion, joined the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.


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