Azerbaijan Should Increase Its Trafficking Prevention Efforts: US Department of State
Azerbaijan, Baku / corr. Trend K.Ramazanova / The US Department of State's report says that the Government of Azerbaijan periodically monitors its anti-trafficking efforts and makes the results public. In 2006, the government paid for the printing and distribution of anti-trafficking pamphlets. In 2006, the Ministry of Education supported school information programs run by domestic NGOs.
" Azerbaijan serves as a transit country for victims from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Moldova trafficked to Turkey and the U.A.E. for sexual exploitation. Men are trafficked to Russia for the purpose of forced labour," mentioned by the report.
The report says that in October 2006, the government opened a long-anticipated shelter, which provides victims of trafficking with short-term care and access to legal, medical, and psychological services.
Azerbaijan's 2005 Law on the Fight Against Trafficking in individuals prohibits both sexual exploitation and forced labour; punishment prescribed by the law ranges from five to fifteen years' imprisonment and is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties for other grave crimes, such as sexual assault.
During 2006, authorities conducted 192 trafficking investigations, up from 160 investigations conducted in 2005. Azerbaijan prosecuted 164 traffickers, up from 153 prosecutions in 2005. In 2006, 155 traffickers were convicted, up from 93 convictions in 2005. Forty-eight of the 155 convicted traffickers were sentenced to time in prison.
Concerns remain that low-level civil servants and local law enforcements may be receiving bribes to facilitate trafficking.
The report says that the Government of Azerbaijan should develop and implement a nation-wide victim referral mechanism and ensure that a nationwide toll-free victims' assistance hotline becomes operational. The government should increase its trafficking prevention efforts, as well as its efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence government officials complicit in trafficking.