UNFPA Subregional Office for Central Asia, is co-implementing with UNODC’s Regional Office for Central Asia (ROCA) an EC funded action on “Strengthening the capacity of the Central Asian Republics to protect and assist victims of trafficking in persons and smuggled migrants, especially women and children, in partnership with NGOs and other civil society actors”.
This Project aims at strengthening the capacity of the Central Asian Republics to identify, protect and assist victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants especially women and children, in partnership with NGO and other civil society actors, mainly by providing legal drafting support focusing on protection of victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants’ rights, developing operational standards for law enforcement personnel on victim identification and conducting training on best practices, and introducing a Partnership Plan for effective cooperation among Government agencies, NGOs and civil society actors. Expected outcomes include: i) improved legal standards for the protection of victims of human trafficking, smuggled migrants and witnesses; (ii) strengthened capacity of criminal justice practitioners to identify, protect and assist victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants;(iii) enhanced cooperation among Government, NGO, and civil society actors in assisting and protecting victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants; and (iv) increased number of victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants identified, protected and assisted.
UNFPA is implementing the outputs and activities under outcome 3: Improved availability of shelters and victim support services for victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants, especially women and children.
- Output 3.1: Increased capacity to support the victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants through improved shelter infrastructures in terms of professionals and services delivered.
- Output 3.2: Increased awareness among shelter staff and users of the rights of victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants.
Problem Analysis and Counterpart Capacity
UNODC research shows that human trafficking and migrant smuggling are serious and growing problems in Central Asia. Irregular migration poses very real dilemmas for the Central Asian states, as well as exposing migrants themselves to insecurity and vulnerability. The problem of irregular migration has been exacerbated by the Financial Crisis which has created large pools of unemployed labourer many of whom are recently returned labour migrants. Finding no employment in their home country, these individuals are increasingly desperate to secure employment again and may be willing to take risks which could lead them to become trafficking victims.
The Central Asian countries are source, transit and destination countries for human trafficking and migrant smuggling. The long established destination for migrants from the region has been Western Europe – in particular Germany, Italy and Greece – and Central and South-East Europe – in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Albania and Bulgaria. In addition, Turkey is a major destination for victims of sexual exploitation. The Russian Federation and Kazakhstan are often destination countries for victims of forced labour. However, many victims of trafficking and migrant smuggling from Central Asia pass through Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation en route to other destinations in Europe. More recently, Asia and the Middle East have become growing destinations for trafficking victims and smuggled migrants including China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand and the UAE. Within Central Asia, trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced labour and forced begging occurs between each of the countries. The growing scale of migrant smuggling into Kazakhstan due to its relative economic success is of increasing concern.
Having carried out an analysis of State responses to human trafficking in the region, as part of UNODC Global report on trafficking in persons, UNODC has identified the following shortcomings that prevent a more effective response by the beneficiary States to human trafficking and smuggling of migrants: UNODC has identified the following shortcomings that prevent a more effective response by the beneficiary States to human trafficking and smuggling of migrants:
Inadequate legislation and weak criminal justice responses:
Trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling are not sufficiently prevented because of a lack of understanding of these phenomena, poor knowledge and practical skills including poor implementation of recently adopted anti-trafficking legislation as well as existing stereotypes amongst law enforcement officials towards victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants more largely. Legislation, law enforcement and judicial capacity to counter human trafficking and migrant smuggling in the Central Asian countries remain to be strengthened. While Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have introduced laws and strict penalties for trafficking in persons, implementation of these laws has been severely hampered by the lack of technical capacity or a clear plan for how these frameworks should be implemented on the ground. Throughout the region as a whole, there remains a general lack of understanding among law enforcement and even prosecutorial authorities as to how to define, detect and prosecute trafficking/smuggling cases. While general legislation is in place to protect those victims willing to testify against their traffickers, only few victims are prepared to come forward, often because of lack of trust in the police and the courts, and lack of confidence in the legal system due to the absence of witness/victims protection legislation and mechanisms. There is a need to strengthen the role of victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants in the criminal justice system, so as to reduce the risks of re-victimization, protect their rights and promote their active participation in trials against traffickers.
Lack of or insufficient cooperation between government agencies and civil society actors.
Currently, NGOs working to protect and support victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants often face administrative hurdles to their work and are sometimes viewed with suspect by government counterparts. NGOs may themselves be wary of working with the government or law enforcement believing that they do not put the needs of the victims first. No specific cooperation procedures have been developed for investigating human trafficking cases. Operational practices relating to protection and assistance measures for victims of trafficking and migrant smuggling entailing cooperation between State actors and civil society organisations are not yet established or widespread.
With a view to better assist trafficking and migrant smuggling victims in their recovery and simultaneously create an environment in which victims feel safe and secure to participate in the criminal investigation and to reconcile potential conflicting interests between victims service providers and law enforcement, it is important to institutionalize – that is, to clearly regulate and guide – the working relationship between the police and other government agencies and NGOs. The purpose should be to ensure a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each actor, preferably in a formalised cooperation mechanism. In some of the Central Asian countries there is no state mechanism for the identification of victims or their referral to institutions providing support, assistance and reintegration. This is substantial problem that causes many victims to go without on much needed services.
Uneven and insufficient services to victims:
Shelter services availability and quality differs dramatically both within and between countries in the region. In Turkmenistan there are currently no shelters either government or NGO run. In Uzbekistan, a national rehabilitation centre to help and protect victims of human trafficking and migrant smuggling and the few functional shelters can offer support and assistance to only a limited number of victims while the number of victims has been steadily growing. Moreover, shelters are concentrated in the capital city, Tashkent, as opposed to Ferghana and Karakalpakstan where most of the victims originate from. In Tajikistan, there are two shelters run by IOM which were established based on the funding for the U.S. and are likely to be succeeded by the Government of Tajikistan once the budget is made available. Professional shelters offering holistic services in partnership with government. NGO and civil society actors are a necessary component to ensure that trafficking and migrant smuggling victims do not suffer secondary traumatization caused by their treatment from institutions and individuals. In this regard, one of the key needs in the Central Asian region is to support the work of service providers to enable them to reach as many victims as possible, especially in light of the growing demand for their services.
Goals of the Consultancy:
The goals of this consultancy are 1) to organize and facilitate a regional workshop on international best practice regarding protection and assistance of victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, October 15-16, 2013 for 5 Central Asian Republics: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tadjikistan and Kyrgyzstan; 2) to develop advocacy materials to educate shelter staff and service users.