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Azerbaijan continues fight against human trafficking

30 July 2014 17:18 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan continues fight against human trafficking

By Nigar Orujova

Azerbaijan is a country with a growing economy and developing life standards. These features have turned it into a transit hub and an attractive destination for tens of thousands of labor migrants.

The country remains adamant in combating illegal human trafficking. To this end, Baku is very cooperative in dealing with its neighbors and world community.

The country approved in July an action plan called the National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking in Azerbaijan in 2014-2018. The approval came in the wake of an order by Azerbaijan's president.

The action plan is aimed at ensuring the continuation of measures toward combating human trafficking, improving normative framework and institutional mechanisms, increasing the efficiency of mutual activity of state bodies and ensuring implementation of Azerbaijan's international obligations in this sphere.

Speaking on the UN day against trafficking in persons on July 30, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "To stop the traffickers, we must severe funding pipelines and seize assets. I urge all countries to ratify and fully implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on Trafficking in Persons."

In his address, Ban Ki-moon stressed that at any given time, an estimated 2.5 million people are trapped in modern-day slavery.

"Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. Slavery, in both its ancient and modern forms, is not only shameful, it is as the abolitionist John Wesley said "the execrable sum of all villainies," and has no place in our world," he said.

The UN says annually about 700,000 people are enslaved. However, another research centers presuppose this figure could reach 4 million people.

Trafficking includes all kinds of violence against person, subdividing into labor, sexual exploitation and child trafficking.

In Azerbaijan, the state committees are working toward reducing human trafficking facts. Thus, State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs conducts educational work chiefly in regions, where people are not quite aware about their rights. In big cities, such people easily become victims of criminals.

Azerbaijan is included into the second group of an annual report on the fight against human trafficking by the U.S. State Department. Published in June, the report analyzed the situation in 187 countries divided into four groups.

The report said that Azerbaijan's government has increased law enforcement efforts by toughening its anti-trafficking laws with new legislations during the reporting period.

Along with Azerbaijan, the second group includes such countries as Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkey.

The U.S. State Department also said that Azerbaijan's 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," the report said.

Moreover, in April and May 2013, the government increased penalties for forced labor. It also clarified the means of force, fraud, or coercion in sex trafficking of children and established the criminal liability for identity document fraud in trafficking in persons.

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.

Nineteen Azerbaijanis fell victim to trafficking in Turkey, 16 in the UAE, 15 in Russia, and one in Iran.

According to statistics released by the Interior Ministry Department on Combating Human Trafficking, the number of human trafficking cases in Azerbaijan was rising prior to 2009, but it has been decreasing since then.

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