[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

KAZAKHSTAN (TIER 2)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Kazakhstan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan trafficked to Russia and the UAE for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor in the construction and agricultural industries. Women from Kazakhstan are trafficked to China and Turkey for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Kazakhstan is a destination country for a significant number of Uzbek men, women, and girls trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, including domestic servitude and forced labor in the tobacco, cotton, and meat processing industries. Men, women, and children are trafficked internally for the purposes of forced labor and forced prostitution.

The Government of Kazakhstan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Over the last year, the government demonstrated increased efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers and improved efforts to prosecute labor traffickers. It also significantly increased funding for public awareness efforts. The government, however, identified a smaller number of victims over the reporting period.

Recommendations for Kazakhstan: Increase efforts to identify both sex and labor trafficking victims; increase the number of victims who receive government-funded assistance by increasing funding to anti-trafficking NGOs; and conduct trafficking awareness campaigns aimed at reducing the demand for both labor trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

The Kazakhstan government demonstrated some progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the reporting period. Kazakhstan prohibits trafficking in persons for both labor and sexual exploitation through Articles 128, 133, 125(3)(b), 126(3)(b), and 270 of its penal code, which prescribe penalties of from 5 to 15 years’ imprisonment – penalties sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. Police conducted 44 trafficking investigations, a significant increase from 22 investigations in 2007. Authorities prosecuted 30 cases in 2008, up from 16 prosecutions in 2007. Twenty-four trafficking offenders were convicted -- including 18 for sex trafficking offenses and 6 for labor trafficking offenses -- up from 19 trafficking convictions in 2007. Only one trafficker received a suspended sentence and served no time in prison. Twelve sex trafficking offenders were given sentences ranging from between 1.5 to 6 years’ imprisonment and six sex trafficking offenders were given sentences ranging from 7 to 11 years’ imprisonment; four labor traffickers were given sentences ranging from 1.5 to 5 years’ imprisonment and two labor traffickers were given sentences ranging from 6.5 to 10 years’ imprisonment. The government did not investigate, prosecute, convict, or punish government officials complicit in trafficking in 2008.

The government’s efforts to assist and protect victims decreased during the year. NGOs continued to report that local police and government officials lacked awareness about labor trafficking, causing some labor trafficking victims to go unidentified during the year. The police formally identified 50 victims, a significant decrease from 112 victims identified by police in 2007. NGOs and IOM assisted 64 victims in 2008, including 22 victims assisted by government-funded programs. Kazakhstan allocated $45,838 for victim assistance in 2008, compared to $35,000 in 2007. Twenty-two victims were assisted by government-funded programs during the reporting period. A local government provided modest assistance for one anti-trafficking shelter in 2008. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs paid for the repatriation of some Kazakh victims trafficked abroad. The government encouraged victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenses. Foreign victims who agreed to cooperate with law enforcement were permitted to remain in Kazakhstan for the duration of the criminal investigation; no reported victims received temporary residence permits in 2008. Many victims refused to testify for fear of retribution from traffickers and because the government had not devoted sufficient resources for the protection of victims who serve as witnesses for the prosecution. The law provides that victims are not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.

The government significantly increased its funding for trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. In 2008, the government allocated $333,000 for nation-wide anti-trafficking awareness campaign advertised on television, radio, in newspapers, and in magazines; a total of 300 trafficking television and radio programs aired and 400 trafficking articles were published. The government also funded NGOs to produce trafficking awareness brochures for Kazakh nationals traveling abroad. Most trafficking awareness efforts in 2008 were targeted at potential victims of trafficking and did not address the demand for trafficking.