U.S. Trafficking Report: Azerbaijan Does Not Fully Meet Minimum Standards

U.S. Trafficking Report: Azerbaijan Does Not Fully Meet Minimum Standards

Azerbaijan remains on "Tier 2" for the third consecutive year in the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), meaning that its government "does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so," as the authors out it, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

In its annual TIP report, the State Department noted that the Azerbaijani government "demonstrated overall increasing efforts" compared with the previous reporting period, "therefore Azerbaijan remained on Tier 2" - it explained.

Introducing the report at the State Department Thursday, Secretary Antony Blinken emphasized the document provides the most comprehensive assessment of the phenomenon and governments’ efforts to combat it.

By measuring the progress made in 188 countries – including the United States – the State Department aims to implement the administration's commitment to prevent trafficking, prosecute the perpetrators of this crime, and protect its victims, Blinken said.

According to him, approximately 27 million individuals worldwide are exploited for work, services and commercial sex. Through force, trickery and coercion, they are forced to work in fields and factories, in restaurants and tenements. The victims are the most vulnerable individuals in the world taking advantage of their plight.

"Trafficking is the very definition of a problem that no one nation can solve alone," Blinken said.  "More than ever, we have to work not only with governments but along with the private sector, civil society, multinational organizations, citizens, and survivors who understand the complex challenge and how we can confront it, and they know this better than anyone"

Cindy Dyer, the US ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat trafficking in persons, said, "unfortunately, some governments are part of the problem."

This year, Blinken determined 13 countries exhibited a policy or pattern of trafficking. Belarus re-joined this list and Sudan was newly added to the list, while several other governments, including Cuba, the PRC, and Russia remained on the list from previous years.

Asked by TURAN about Russia’s victims in Ukraine, Dyer told the Department's daily briefing that along with the increased vulnerability of refugees that are fleeing that war, especially women and children, they are closely tracking Russia’s forces, specifically using children for military purposes in Ukraine. 

"We have noted that there have been reports of children being forced to perform armed duty, as well as serve as informants and human shields.  We are very concerned about that.  For all children who have been taken, we know that they are at extreme risk of trafficking, and we are calling for that to stop, and for them to be returned to their families in the Ukraine," she added.

Reports also indicate that Russian authorities, middlemen, private military companies, and Russian-affiliated forces are using coercion and deception and, potentially, force to recruit foreign nationals.  "We know that many countries have actually stopped visas so that their foreign nations can’t even go to Russia because of this specific concern.  All of these things are highlighted in the report, and it is the result of their remaining on Tier 3 with a policy or pattern finding," Dyer said.

As for Azerbaijan, the report suggests that the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Authorities often did not recognize psychological coercion as a means of control or required a transnational element for trafficking and did not implement victim-centered efforts in prosecution.

"The government continued to lack screening and proactive identification efforts, particularly for internal trafficking victims among vulnerable populations. Government funding overall was still inadequate for NGO-run shelters, which remained severely underfunded, and the government continued its moratorium on scheduled and unannounced labor inspections," the authors noted.

This years' report also prioritizes recommendations including increasing efforts to vigorously investigate, trafficking crimes and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, including complicit officials, which should involve significant prison terms.

Other recommendations include: allow formal victim identification without requiring cooperation with law enforcement and by entities other than law enforcement officials, including by civil society, social workers, and healthcare professionals; allocate increased funding to NGO-run shelters providing services to trafficking victims; train investigators, prosecutors, and judges on victim-centered approaches, including on re-traumatization, confidentiality, and specific policies on children, among other key steps.

Leave a review


Follow us on social networks

News Line