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US Department of State: Georgian Gov’t fails to fully comply with minimum standards for trafficking elimination

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, July 29
The Trafficking in Persons Report released by the US Department of States reads that Georgia is a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking and men, women, and children subjected to forced labor.

“Women and girls from Georgia are subjected to sex trafficking within the country, in Turkey, and, to a lesser extent, in China, Egypt, Greece, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia.

“Women from Azerbaijan and Central Asian countries are subjected to forced prostitution in Georgia’s commercial sex trade in the tourist areas of Batumi and Gonio in Adjara province,” the report reads.

Based on the experts, the report informs that women are subjected to sex trafficking in saunas, strip clubs, casinos, and hotels. The majority of identified trafficking victims are young, foreign women seeking employment.

“Georgian men and women are subjected to forced labor within Georgia and in Turkey, Iraq, Russia, Azerbaijan and other countries. Georgian migrants pursuing employment in agriculture and other low-skilled jobs contact employers or agents directly, only later becoming victims in their country of destination.”

The body has no precise information concerning the people from the occupied regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“However, the government and NGOs consider internally displaced persons from these occupied territories to be particularly vulnerable to trafficking, “ the US State Department Report reads and stresses that the Government of Georgia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.

The report says that the investigations, prosecutions, and convictions increased during the reporting period. The Prime Minister signed a decree establishing a labour inspectorate with authority to enforce preventative measures related to labor trafficking. It also increased the number of anti-trafficking mobile units from three to four, providing law enforcement more resources and personnel to conduct trafficking investigations.

“However, law enforcement’s limited investigative capabilities hampered trafficking investigations. Experts reported whether or not they were potential victims. The government did not outline a strategy to systematically combat street begging.”

The US government advices Georgia to Increase investigative capacity of law enforcement officers through specialized training and assign police with specialized training in trafficking to participate in trafficking investigations; continue to incorporate victim-witness advocates during the investigative phase; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute suspected traffickers and convict labor and sex traffickers; enable and train the labor inspectorate to investigate potential labor trafficking; employ more effective, proactive methods to detect and identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; continue awareness-raising campaigns about the existence of human trafficking, legal recourse, and available protection services, targeted at vulnerable groups.

The trafficking issue was one of first mentioned by the President of the European Council Donald Tusk when he visited Georgia several days ago. He stressed that if Georgia wants to be granted full visa liberation it must combat trafficking more effectively.

Indeed, trafficking related problems are just some of multiple hardships Georgia is currently facing. We are still good at adopting new, required legislations but in several cases there are no relevant levers for their enforcement. Of course it is hard for such a small country as Georgia to combat international problems alone, however, owing to the lack of professionals in various fields and many other hindering aspects we still fail to appropriately fulfil our own obligations.