[ Human Trafficking, Country-by-Country ]

TURKEY (Tier 2) Extracted in part  from the U.S. State Dept 2023 TIP Report

The Government of Türkiye does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.  The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Türkiye remained on Tier 2.  These efforts included investigating more trafficking cases, prosecuting more defendants, and the Presidency of Migration Management (PMM) forming a working group on victim protection to increase coordination among victim service providers.  Provincial coordinating boards for anti-trafficking met at least once and the Turkish Human Rights and Equality Institution (THREI) continued as the national rapporteur for anti-trafficking and established a working group and published its first annual report.  However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.  The government convicted fewer traffickers and courts continued to acquit most of the defendants prosecuted for trafficking; and prosecutors often referred trafficking cases to general investigative police departments, which did not possess specialized skills and knowledge necessary to investigate trafficking.  The government continued to exclude local NGOs in victim protection efforts; and law enforcement sometimes investigated trafficking under lesser offences with lesser penalties, particularly “encouragement of prostitution” rather than sex trafficking.  The government continued to lack the capacity to accommodate and provide specialized support to all victims, denied accommodation to transgender victims, and decreased funding for in-kind assistance to victims.  The government did not update its NAP (in place since 2009).

Prioritized Recommendations

Vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers. 

Expand and institutionalize training to investigators, prosecutors, and judges on victim-centered approaches to trafficking cases, including advanced training on trafficking investigations and prosecutions. 

Establish procedures or structures, such as a specialized prosecutorial unit, to ensure trafficking cases are handled by trained prosecutors and investigators. 

Increase and strengthen specialized services, including shelter and psycho-social support for all victims, including transgender victims. 

Encourage victims’ participation in investigations and prosecutions, including using remote testimony or funding for travel and other expenses for victims to attend court hearings. 

Increase proactive victim identification efforts among vulnerable populations, such as refugees and asylum-seekers, persons in LGBTQI+ communities, migrants awaiting deportation, Turkish and foreign women and girls in commercial sex, and children begging in the streets and working in the agricultural and industrial sectors. 

Expand partnerships with civil society to better identify victims and provide victim services. 

Convene coordinating bodies and adopt an updated national action plan. 

Train judges on restitution in criminal cases, establish procedures to seize assets from traffickers, and create effective methods to allocate restitution in a timely manner. 

Inform all identified victims of their right to pursue compensation and encourage them to do so. 

Increase resources to the labor inspectorate to fully inspect and monitor businesses and workplaces for forced labor. 

Standardize data collection and disaggregate statistics for sex trafficking and labor trafficking.