Georgia is a source, transit and destination country for sex trafficking and forced labor with the Georgian government demonstrating improvements in anti-trafficking prevention efforts, according to U.S. Department of State’s annual report released on June 19.
For six straight years Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report puts Georgia in “tier one” – the highest ranking, which although does not mean that a country has no human trafficking problem, but indicates that its government undertakes efforts to address this problem and meets minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
Out of the 185 countries reviewed in the 2012 report, which covers developments in 2011, 33 complied fully with laws in place to end human trafficking, putting them at the top of a four-tier ranking system.
While over the past decade Georgia was mainly described in annual TIP reports as “a source and transit country” of human trafficking, last year’s report, which was covering developments of 2010, said that Georgia was also “to a lesser extent” a destination country too. The new report describes Georgia as “a source, transit, and destination country.”
“Women and girls from Georgia are subjected to sex trafficking within the country and also in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates,” TIP Report 2012 reads. “Women from Uzbekistan and possibly other countries are found in forced prostitution in the commercial sex industry in Georgia.”
According to the report there were cases of men and women being subjected to forced labor within Georgia, and Georgians being subjected to forced labor in Russia, Turkey and some other countries. The report also says that there have been cases in recent years of foreign nationals exploited in agriculture, construction and domestic service within Georgia and Turkish men subjected to forced labor “in the occupied territory of Abkhazia.”
According to the report the Georgian authorities demonstrated “improvements in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts”, as well as increased the number of investigated trafficking cases. 16 trafficking investigations involving 18 individuals were initiated in 2011, compared with 11 investigations of 18 individuals a year earlier, according to the report, which also says that five sex trafficking offenders were prosecuted and convicted in 2011, an increase from one offender convicted in 2010.
TIP Report 2012, however, also notes decline in identification of victims of trafficking as government’s efforts in this respect “were not effective” during the first half of 2011. 18 victims were identified, most of them in late 2011, compared to 19 a year earlier and 48 in 2009.
“Country experts reported concerns with the low level of victim identification and overall lack of success in locating trafficking victims, including children in exploitative situations on the street, children in the sex trade, foreign women in the commercial sex sector, and Georgian and foreign workers in vulnerable labor sectors,” the report reads.
It also notes that last year, the government increased funding for state-provided victim services by nearly 50%, including by allocating USD 302,000 to two government-run shelters for trafficking victims.