[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

TURKMENISTAN (Tier 2 Watch List)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Turkmenistan is a source country for women trafficked primarily to Turkey but reportedly also to the UAE, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Men and women are trafficked to Turkey for the purpose of domestic servitude and forced labor, specifically in textile sweatshops.

The Government of Turkmenistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these efforts, the government did not publicly acknowledge trafficking as a problem, undertake significant efforts to raise awareness, or assist victims; therefore, Turkmenistan is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The government did investigate a small number of trafficking cases during the reporting period. While the government did make significant efforts by adopting the “Law on the Battle against Trafficking in Persons” in December 2007, it did not implement the law during the reporting period. The law identifies responsible ministries within the government to combat trafficking and requires authorities to develop measures to prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and assist victims. The government began the process of updating the criminal code to include penalties for trafficking offenses defined as such in the 2007 trafficking law. All forms of trafficking currently are prohibited under existing disparate statutes.

Recommendations for Turkmenistan: Implement the 2007 Law on the Battle Against Trafficking in Persons by completing revisions to the national criminal code to prescribe penalties for both sex and labor trafficking as defined in the 2007 Law on the Battle Against Trafficking in Persons; vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders; investigate individual instances of government officials complicit in the facilitation of trafficking, provide victim identification, victim referral, and victim sensitivity training for border guards and police; provide financial assistance to anti-trafficking organizations assisting victims; continue to expand and improve systematic victim identification and referral procedures; establish safeguards and training procedures to ensure victims are not punished for acts committed as a direct result of trafficking, such as migration violations; and conduct a trafficking awareness campaign to inform the general public about the dangers of trafficking.

The Government of Turkmenistan demonstrated no significant law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Turkmenistan’s Law on the Battle against Trafficking in Persons, adopted in December 2007, prohibits all forms of trafficking, but does not explicitly prescribe penalties for such crimes. All forms of trafficking currently are prohibited under disparate statutes, and the criminal code is being amended to prescribe penalties for trafficking under the 2007 law. Statutes under which traffickers may be prosecuted and punished include those prohibiting pimping, organizing a brothel, the illegal harboring of a person, and the unlawful taking of freedom. In 2008, the government investigated and prosecuted two cases of trafficking under non-trafficking statutes. The government provided no information on the number of traffickers convicted or sentenced to time in prison in 2008. The General Prosecutor’s Office provided victim identification training for officials on international trafficking. There were unconfirmed reports that some customs or migration officials were notified of cases when women were trafficked abroad but made no efforts to prevent the trafficking.

The government made no effort to protect or assist victims during the reporting period. The Government of Turkmenistan did not provide medical assistance, counseling, shelter, legal assistance, or rehabilitative services to victims of trafficking, nor did it supply funding to international organizations or NGOs to provide services to victims. The 2007 trafficking law has provisions for victim care facilities and guarantees protection and assistance for victims of trafficking. Twenty victims were assisted by nongovernment-funded organizations during the reporting period; the government referred no victims for assistance. Government personnel employ no formal victim identification procedures. In 2008, at least two victims assisted in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. Some law enforcement officers detained and questioned victims in order to obtain information; there were no reports of victim imprisonment.

Turkmenistan demonstrated no efforts to raise awareness during the reporting period. The government did not fund or conduct any anti-trafficking awareness campaigns in 2008. The government monitored the trafficking situation within its borders.