US says Turkey a source, destination and transit for trafficking and forced labor

by editor | 28th June 2011 6:29 am

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In its annual Trafficking in Persons report, the State Department said Turkey is a source, destination, and transit country for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, accusing the government of not fully complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
The report analyzed conditions in 184 nations, including the United States, and ranked them in terms of their effectiveness in fighting what many have termed modern-day slavery. The State Department estimates that as many as 27 million men, women and children are living in such bondage around the worlds.
According to the report, women and child sex trafficking victims found in Turkey originate predominately from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe but Turkish women are also subjected to forced prostitution within the country.
The report criticized Turkey for not fully complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but it said Turkey is making significant efforts to do so. β€œThe government improved its recognition of forced labor and domestic trafficking during the reporting period,” the report reads.
It said the number of victims the police identified dropped by almost half compared to the previous year. While it prosecuted and convicted trafficking offenders in 2010, the government did not provide sentencing information to demonstrate that they received adequate jail sentences.

“All countries can and must do more,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in presenting the report. “More human beings are being exploited today than ever before.”

Among the countries on the blacklist are Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea and Sudan along with Eritrea, Libya and Zimbabwe. Others are US allies in the Middle East like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia while Papua New Guinea was cited as a repeat offender. Only one country, the Dominican Republic, was removed from the list.

The 11 new countries on the blacklist are Algeria, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Micronesia, Turkmenistan, Venezuela and Yemen.

The State Department urged Turkey to finalize and enact anti-trafficking legislation to prohibit internal trafficking in Turkey; vigorously prosecute and convict trafficking offenders; conduct a study to determine why a significant number of prosecuted trafficking cases result in acquittals; commit sustained funding for the three specialized NGO shelters in the country and consider establishing a victim assistance fund from fines levied against convicted traffickers for this purpose; allow potential victims some time to recover from their trafficking experiences and to make informed decisions about their options for protection and possible cooperation with law enforcement; expand the best practice of allowing NGOs access to detention centers; increase efforts to proactively identify potential victims of forced prostitution and forced labor; continue to improve witness protection measures to provide victims with more incentives to cooperate with law enforcement; and develop specialized assistance for children who are subjected to trafficking, as well as men who are subjected to forced labor.

The report said the government demonstrated some limited progress in protecting trafficking victims in 2010; however, it did not address critically needed improvements to achieve a more victim-centered approach.

The report said the Turkish government took an important step to improve its anti-trafficking prevention efforts in 2010 by providing $150,000 for the operation of its national IOM-run anti-trafficking (β€œ157”) hotline. IOM continued to report that the highest percentage of calls came from clients of women in prostitution.

According to the report, the government provided anti-trafficking training to its military personnel prior to their deployment abroad for international peacekeeping missions. The government did not demonstrate efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor within Turkey. Prostitution by women who are Turkish citizens is legal under restricted conditions in Turkey, though the government reported efforts to screen both brothels and women involved in street prostitution to identify potential trafficking victims. The government did not take any discernible steps to prevent child sex tourism by Turkish nationals traveling abroad.

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