IOM Tajikistan Today
Counter Trafficking Projects
IOM is the leading agency in Tajikistan on combating trafficking, and has projects to enhance capacity of law enforcement and judges to investigate, prosecute and judge human traffickers and protect the victims.
Trafficking in persons from Central Asia takes many forms, however according to the IOM field research, trafficking for labor exploitation is the most common. Underage girls and boys are also increasingly becoming VOTs and are engaged in prostitution in Central Asia. In Tajikistan, for instance, the average age of a prostitute has reportedly fallen to eleven or twelve years, and many of these child prostitutes are sold to exploiters by their parents. On the issue of labour trafficking, Kazakhstan and Russia appears to be the major destination countries for trafficked labourers from other Central Asian republics, principally from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This trend has been increasing in the recent years due to the global financial crisis that struck mainly the destination countries.
Each year, Tajikistan experiences a huge seasonal labor outflow as more than 800,000 of its citizens work abroad, mainly in the Russian Federation. This phenomenon substantially impacts the labour market in cotton growing areas and makes child labour an easily available solution for an industry in desperate need of workers. Despite Tajik legislation officially prohibiting child labour and forced labour, schools in rural areas have been reported to be closed with the pupils then sent to the fields during the harvest period, potentially endangering their health and limiting their education development.
In response to this situation, IOM has implemented two monitoring projects to track the use of forced labour in the cotton fields throughout the country. These projects have been supported by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the US Department of State.
These projects builds upon the achievements of previous counter-trafficking initiatives of IOM in Tajikistan and are designed to further assist the Government of Tajikistan (GoT) to strengthen national capacities for education and training of present and future staff from the relevant law enforcement agencies, justice system and executive authorities to fight against human trafficking and increase detection, investigation, and prosecution human trafficking crimes in Tajikistan. Through the development of concrete recommendations and customized training, these projects contribute to GoT efforts to develop effective mechanisms and operational capacities to streamline procedures regulating investigation and prosecution of TiP related crimes. They will also help the GoT further harmonize the inter-agency system in Tajikistan to combat human trafficking and establish a sustainable training framework for relevant state authorities.
IOM Tajikistan operates two shelters for victims of trafficking. In 2005, IOM opened the Dushanbe Shelter for Victims of Human Trafficking with the support of the US Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL). Several months later, IOM opened a shelter in Khujand which caters specifically to the needs of minor victims of trafficking, operated with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Since 2005, the Dushanbe shelter has provided return, rehabilitation and reintegration assistance to 156 VoTs, and the Khujand shelter has provided for the needs of 64 minor victims.
This project aimed to increase the anti-trafficking awareness and preventive capacity of NGOs, governmental and private educational institutions and mass media institutions in undertaking related information campaigns and protecting victims through a network of victims advocacy NGOs. By increasing the capacity of local civil actors to provide advice, services and a supportive environment for victims of trafficking in their communities, the project aimed to achieve long-term sustainability.
This programme aimed at stemming the key causes of trafficking in persons (TiP) from Tajikistan by enhancing law enforcement capacity to investigate and apprehend human trafficking-related crimes.