Baku, Azerbaijan, June 25
The U.S. Department of State has published its annual report on the fight against human trafficking. The report analyzes the situation in 187 countries divided into four groups.
Azerbaijan is included into the second group just like the previous year, the country's Interior Ministry told Trend.
Along with Azerbaijan the second group includes such countries as Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkey.
The report says that the Azerbaijani government has increased law enforcement efforts by toughening its anti-trafficking laws with new legislation and increasing law enforcement efforts against labor trafficking during the reporting period.
The U.S. Department of State also said that the government has made some progress to protect and assist the victims of trafficking.
"Azerbaijan's 2005 Law on the Fight against Trafficking in Persons and Article 144 of the criminal code prohibit sex trafficking and forced labor, and prescribe penalties of five to 15 years' imprisonment, punishments which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In April and May 2013, the government amended Article 144 of the criminal code to bring it in line with international law, by removing cross-86 border transport as a necessary element of the crime, increasing penalties for forced labor, clarifying that means of force, fraud, or coercion need not be demonstrated to prove the crime of sex trafficking of children, and establishing criminal liability for identity document fraud if committed for the purpose of trafficking in persons."
"The government reported four labor trafficking investigations and 17 sex trafficking investigations in 2013, an increase from two labor trafficking investigations and 10 sex trafficking investigations in 2012. In addition, it reported prosecuting two defendants for labor trafficking, including its first case on behalf of a Filipina domestic worker exploited in Azerbaijan, and 15 defendants for sex trafficking crimes in 2013, compared with two prosecutions for labor trafficking crimes and 12 defendants prosecuted for sex trafficking in 2012. The government reported that it convicted five traffickers in 2013, compared with 12 in 2012," the report said.
"In 2013, the government certified 15 men and one woman as labor trafficking victims and 40 women as sex trafficking victims, compared with 17 male labor trafficking victims and 36 female victims of sex trafficking in 2012. The ATD reported that 19 Azerbaijanis were victims of trafficking in Turkey, 16 in the UAE, 15 in Russia, and one in Iran."
"One NGO assisted 97 trafficking victims, some of whom were not counted as part of the government total. Of the officially recorded victims, 37 received temporary shelter at a government facility, where they received medical and psychological treatment. Fifty victims, including two sex trafficking victims from Uzbekistan, received a stipend equivalent of approximately $510, and 13 received some form of financial compensation from the Victim's Assistance Fund. Twenty-two victims received employment assistance, and 21 were sent to vocational schools for training," the report stressed.
"The Labor Ministry's Center for Assistance to Victims of Trafficking reported that it provided rehabilitation and reintegration services to 44 victims referred by the MIA and 18 victims referred by NGOs (a total of 62 people) in 2013. Of the victims who sought the Center's services, 11 victims were provided with jobs, three people were offered training, two people received financial assistance, seven people were provided with shelter, eight people were offered psychological assistance, four people received medical aid, and six people received legal assistance."
"In 2013, the ATD assisted 62 victims of human trafficking, compared with 53 victims assisted in 2012. Of those victims, 43 received temporary shelter at a government-run facility, which adult victims could reportedly enter and leave freely. Eleven of the victims were provided with employment, two received financial aid, eight received psychological support, six received legal consultation, and three attended professional training courses," the report said.