Trafficking in Persons 2006 Report Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is a source, transit, and destination country for people trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Kazakhstani men, women, and children are trafficked to the U.A.E., Turkey, Israel, South Korea, Greece, Russia, and Western Europe. Last year saw a slight decrease in the number of cases of Kazakhstani victims being trafficked abroad and an increase in the number of labor trafficking victims into and within Kazakhstan. Men, women, and children from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan are trafficked through or to Kazakhstan primarily for forced labor in construction and agriculture. Women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation. International experts estimate that the number of trafficking victims is in the low thousands. The Government of Kazakhstan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In March 2006, Kazakhstan enacted a comprehensive set of legislative amendments that strengthened the government’s ability to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers. These amendments also included provisions to increase the amount of resources devoted to victim protection and prevention. In February 2006, Parliament passed legislation that will provide identified victims with temporary residence status to ensure their safe repatriation or participation in trafficking prosecutions. In April 2005, the Law on Social Assistance was passed, providing a mechanism that allows the government to provide grants to NGOs. The government should continue its progress by developing a plan to track, analyze, and prepare regular reports on trafficking statistics. The government should also devote more resources to training for law enforcement, prosecutors and judges with the goal of increasing convictions of traffickers and imposing sentences that are actually served. The government should also increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking-specific government corruption.
The Government of Kazakhstan demonstrated modest progress in its law enforcement efforts to
combat trafficking over the last year. Police conducted 29 trafficking investigations in 2005, up
from 27 in 2004. Authorities prosecuted five trafficking cases in 2005, down from 14 in 2004.
Courts convicted 13 traffickers in 2005, an increase from 12 in 2004. Although penalties prescribed by the law are sufficiently stringent, convicted traffickers regularly received suspended sentences and did not serve any time in prison. The Border Guard Service trained passport control officers to screen for potential victims entering the country at Kazakhstan’s 150 official points of entry. Systemic corruption remained a problem that affected anti-trafficking efforts; reports of individual border guards and migration officers accepting bribes from traffickers were common. However, there were no reports of new investigations and no reports of prosecutions for official complicity in trafficking. Furthermore, the two investigations of higher-level officials assisting trafficking rings reported in the 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report remained unresolved; the first investigation was dropped for lack of evidence while the second remained under investigation at the time of this Report.
Kazakhstan increased its efforts to provide victim protection and assistance during the reporting
period. Some local governments provided in-kind assistance to NGO trafficking crisis centers and
shelters; in the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk, the local government provided room, board, and protection for trafficking victims in conjunction with NGOs. Crisis centers and shelters reported effective coordination with local law enforcement. The government assisted in the repatriation of Kazakhstani victims. The government worked with NGOs and international organizations to
provide protection to 22 foreign citizens trafficked to or through Kazakhstan, pending their
repatriation. Victims' rights were generally respected and there were no reports of victims being
jailed in 2005; however, victims were sometimes punished for unlawful acts committed as adirect result of their being trafficked. While law enforcement awareness of sexual exploitation continued to increase, authorities at the local level had difficulty distinguishing illegal labor migration from labor trafficking; police identified only 25 labor trafficking victims in 2005, though international observers believe the numbers to be far greater.
The government and IOM continued a joint anti-trafficking information campaign targeted at
potential victims over the last year. The Ministry of Justice produced a short booklet entitled,
"Working Overseas," which offered advice to Kazakhstanis looking to work abroad on whether their overseas employment offers were legitimate; the booklet also provided information for victims on where they could receive help and assistance, within Kazakhstan and at embassies and consulates abroad. The booklet was printed in Kazakh and Russian and was widely distributed throughout the country. In Kostanay, the local government helped fund anti-trafficking public service announcements produced by a local NGO.