The Observance of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in Kazakhstan: Live Teleconference

The Observance of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in Kazakhstan: Live Teleconference

Nur-Sultan – UN Migration Agency in cooperation with the National Center for Human Rights, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Rodnik Social Fund held a press-conference to mark the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

- Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime was adopted twenty years ago. Since 2008, when Kazakhstan had ratified the Protocol, the Republic significantly improved its national legislation to prosecute trafficking in persons and to protect trafficking victims. Still, there is a number of challenges to be addressed by the country to eliminate trafficking in persons in Kazakhstan.

- According to Ms. Zere Utebayeva, Head of the National Center for Human Rights, in 2020 the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan Ms. Elvira Azimova will collaborate with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) / UN Migration Agency to conduct an assessment to identify gaps and obstacles that lead to low identification. Special emphasis will be made on trafficking of migrant workers and ineffective investigation and prosecution of labor exploitation cases.

- Recommendations for legislative amendments and implementation improvement will be offered by the assessment to relevant state bodies and shared with civil society organizations and international organizations for future programming on combating trafficking in persons.

- According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 69 criminal cases on trafficking in persons have been already initiated this year. Ms. Shinar Kucherbayeva, Senior Police Officer of the Criminal Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, informed that along with internal trafficking there are cases of trafficking of Kazakh citizens abroad (Bahrain, Republic of Korea, Turkey, UAE, other countries) and cases of trafficking of foreign citizens to Kazakhstan.

- Since 2016 state funding has been provided in the Republic of Kazakhstan to assist victims of trafficking. In 2020, there 10 state-funded shelters for victims of human trafficking, which operated by NGOs.

- “If a foreign citizen becomes a victim of trafficking in Kazakhstan, the state should be held accountable and provide protection and assistance to the victim,” said Ms. Nina Balabayeva, Director of the Rodnik NGO, who has been chosen as a Trafficking in Person Report Hero in the annual report issued by the U.S. State Department in 2020. "Today, state-funded shelters do not accept foreign citizens temporarily staying in Kazakhstan, and we need to change this approach."

- In anticipation of today's press conference, partner NGOs located throughout the country held a multi-day online marathon highlighting various aspects of trafficking in persons. The purpose is to raise awareness among the population about the risks of human trafficking, as well as how to help those who have already ended up in the hands of traffickers.

- This year also marks 25 years of the International Organization for Migration's programme on combating trafficking in persons. Globally IOM has assisted over one hundred thousand women, men, girls and boys trafficked mainly for sexual and labor exploitation. Global Data Hub on Human Trafficking includes 175 nationalities and 164 countries of exploitation, including Kazakhstan.

- Kazakhstan is a destination and transit country for victims of human trafficking mainly from Central Asian countries, as well as a country of origin from which victims are trafficked to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Korea and other countries. From 2004 to 2019, IOM Kazakhstan has assisted almost 2,000 victims of trafficking. At the same time, IOM Missions in other Central Asian countries report higher numbers, because victims apply for assistance only upon returning to their homeland.

Sub-Regional Coordinator for Central Asia, Chief of Mission of International Organization for Migration / The UN Migration Agency in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Mr. Zeynal Hajiyev concluded: “This year our world faces an unprecedented threat to health and well-being of billions of people. The pandemic and ensuing economic recession have made vulnerable populations, and especially migrants, even more vulnerable to human traffickers, forcing them to accept risky offers and accept bonded working conditions. Today, IOM reaffirms its commitment to support the Government of Kazakhstan and civil society in preventing and eradicating human trafficking”.

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