[ Human Trafficking, Country-by-Country ]

UKRAINE (Tier 2) Extracted from the U.S. State Dept 2020 TIP Report

The Government of Ukraine 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 to the previous reporting period; therefore Ukraine remained on Tier 2. These efforts included increasing investigations, more than doubling the number of traffickers convicted, investigating more cases of forced labor, proposing draft legislation to eliminate recruitment fees, and granting official status to more victims who were incarcerated abroad for crimes their traffickers compelled them to commit. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Courts were slow to review cases, aggravated by chronic understaffing, and issued many suspended sentences, likely aggravated by corruption, resulting in the majority of convicted traffickers avoiding imprisonment. This effort was inadequate to deter trafficking. The moratorium on labor inspections continued to hamper law enforcement investigations on labor trafficking cases. Reports of officials, including senior anti-trafficking police officials, complicit in human trafficking persisted; the government initiated criminal investigations and prosecutions of several allegedly complicit officials during the reporting period but had not secured any convictions. The government certified fewer victims in 2019; international organizations continued to identify far more victims than the government, indicating the government’s inadequate identification efforts and a continuing lack of trust in the government’s ability to protect victims.

Prioritized Recommendations

Punish convicted traffickers with significant prison terms.Clearly define administrative chains of responsibility and competencies of service providers throughout the decentralization process to minimize disruption in the processes of identification, referral, and assistance to trafficking victims.Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes, including public officials complicit in trafficking crimes.Identify and certify the status of more victims to ensure they are afforded their rights under the trafficking law and modify the procedure for granting victim status to lessen the burden on victims to self-identify and divulge sensitive information.Increase law enforcement investigations of recruitment firms engaged in fraudulent practices and end the moratorium on random labor inspections.Increase training for law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, particularly on forced labor, a victim-centered approach, and how to gather evidence outside of victims’ testimony.Undertake a systemic effort to implement victim-witness protection measures and take active measures to prevent intimidation of victims during legal procedures.Increase training for officials on victim identification, particularly in proactive screening for labor trafficking and of vulnerable populations, such as women in commercial sex, children in sex trafficking, foreign migrant workers, and internally displaced persons.Enact legislation to strengthen protections for foreign victims.Establish a dedicated, independent counter-trafficking coordinator position with support staff.