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OSCE reports on human trafficking in Georgia

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, May 13
The report on human trafficking in Georgia was prepared by the Special Representative and Coordinator of the OSCE for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Valiant Richey after his visit to Georgia on 17th-19th of June, 2019.

The document outlines the main conclusions and recommendations of the Special Representative, as well as identifies potential sources of trafficking and focuses on the best practices of the OSCE.

Based on the information gathered during the visit, Richey said that Georgia is a source of human trafficking.

As for the investigation of trafficking cases and criminal prosecution OSCE Special Representative welcomed the cooperation of the Georgian law enforcement agencies with the international partner states, meanwhile stressing the need for ‘closer and stronger’ cooperation between the relevant structures to identify online sexual exploitation markets and to identify online platforms that attract people for labor exploitation.

A special envoy noted that often the investigation of human trafficking cases is hampered by the fact that the victims do not want to self-identify, thus stressting the importance of finding a strategy and tactics that will help gather evidence beyond the testimony of those involved. He called on police involved in the fight against trafficking to step up efforts to proactively launch an investigation into all areas of exploitation, against all those who used the services of victims of trafficking and called for the sexual exploitation of vulnerable people to be met.

Women, children and labor migrants have been identified as the most vulnerable group. Report reads, that in terms of human trafficking and forced labor, the highest risk sectors are the tourism and hospitality sectors, noting that ‘commercial sex industry’ is closely linked to the tourism industry. In these terms, the document discusses the growing number of entertainment establishments in Adjara, where the sexual exploitation of women victims of trafficking from Azerbaijan and Central Asia (especially from Uzbekistan) is taking place.

The special envoy wrote that these women are deceived by the promise of employment in the hospitality sector in Georgia, and they are often victims of sexual exploitation in saunas, nightclubs, motels and private homes in tourist areas on the border with Adjara and Turkey. As for Georgian women, they are likely to be transferred to Turkey and the United Arab Emirates for sexual exploitation.

According to the report, child trafficking is also a problem in Georgia. “In addition to parents forcing childre to beg on the street, there is a high risk that they will be trafficked for sexual exploitation, including prostitution,” documet read. The OSCE Special Representative noted that ‘despite the efforts of the Georgian authorities’, child trafficking and exploitation remain a problem, which requires ‘urgent action’ to prevent border trafficking between Georgia and Azerbaijan, as well as to conduct research across the country.

According to the report, Georgian men are being trafficked to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Cyprus for operational purposes. At the same time, Poland is a new destination, where Georgian men are also trafficked for forced labor.

The document states that the activities of private employment agencies that offer Georgians employment abroad and bring migrant workers to Georgia have a risk factor.

The representative positively assessed the strong legislative base of Georgia, which serves to prevent human trafficking and fight against it. He praised the country for its membership in international conventions on combating all forms of human trafficking and welcomed the changes in the Criminal Code of Georgia, which further expanded the list of ‘exploitation goals and means’ related to trafficking.

However, he also called on the Georgian authorities to address the issue of trafficking women for prostitution abroad, as well as for the trafficking of minors for prostitution, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code and trafficking.

Report notes that the Georgian government, chaired by the Minister of Justice, established the Inter-Agency Coordinating Council in 2006 to harmonize anti-trafficking efforts.

Welcoming the activities of the mentioned structure, he stressed the importance of independent monitoring and evaluation of anti-trafficking measures, noting that lack of human resources in institutions set up by the government often hampered regular and active monitoring and detailed assessment of the situation and the lack of comprehensive data has made it difficult to determine the exact scale of human trafficking in Georgia

The OSCE Special Representative has recommended that the following legal acts be signed and ratified in order to double the fight against human trafficking: International Labor Organization Convention 189 on the Decent Work of Local Workers; The 2014 Protocol to the 1930 Convention on Forced Labor; and the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families.

He also called on the Georgian government to set up an independent national rapporteur’s office to investigate various forms of human trafficking, including sex workers, as well as trafficking in migrant workers, construction, hospitality and agriculture. Richey reiterated the OSCE's recommendation to Georgia to consider how well business and government structures address the risks of trafficking in the relevant supply chains.