The U.S. Department of States has upgraded Georgia to the highest tier in its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, released on June 30.
“Tier 1” 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.
Before this upgrade, Georgia was for three years in “Tier 2”, which lists countries whose governments do not fully comply with minimum standards, despite making significant efforts. Tier 3 is the lowest ranking assigned to countries whose governments do not fully comply with minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.
Georgia was relegated to “Tier 2” for the 2012 reporting period after six straight years in “Tier 1”.
According to the new report, covering developments of 2015, the Georgian government “adopted a more victim-centered approach” and continued to provide “comprehensive care for all identified victims and increased services available to victims.”
It says that the government “increased the anti-trafficking capacity of its law enforcement through funding an unprecedented number of trainings for police, prosecutors, judges, and shelter operators.”
The report, however, also notes that there have been fewer traffickers convicted and fewer victims identified in the reporting period. It also says that the authorities “restricted labor inspectors’ ability to investigate workplaces.”
“Victim identification of children in exploitative situations on the street, including forced begging and criminality, and Georgian and foreign workers in vulnerable labor sectors remained inadequate, and the government did not conduct a study on street children or devise a strategy to address the issue,” reads the report.
According to the report Georgia is a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking and men, women, and children subjected to forced labor.
“Women and girls from Georgia are subjected to sex trafficking within the country, in Turkey, and, to a lesser extent, in China and United Arab Emirates. Georgia is also a transit country for women from Central Asia exploited in Turkey. Women from Azerbaijan and Central Asia are subjected to forced prostitution in the tourist areas of the Adjara region and in saunas, strip clubs, casinos, and hotels. The majority of identified trafficking victims are young, foreign women seeking employment,” reads the report.