As it is known, Trafficking in Persons, which violates fundamental human rights and freedoms and causing a threat to international security, is one of the criminal acts that allows criminal network to earn large amounts of illegal income and making millions of people become the victims of this.
According to the latest global report on the problem in most countries, three-quarters of the identified victims are women and their 30 percent are children.
The Year of 2019 coincides with the 15th anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Palermo Protocol "to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children".
It is the execution of the obligations arising from this international document that led to the adoption of legislation in many countries aimed at improving the identification of victims and mechanisms for their protection, increasing the effectiveness of criminal prosecution and justice. As a result, there has been an annual increase in the number of victims identified and prosecuted.
In 2019, the Republic of Azerbaijan also took measures in cooperation with competent government agencies, civil society institutions and international partners to control the operational situation in the relevant area, protected persons at risk from these crimes, and covered the victims with physical, psychological and social rehabilitation measures.
Firstly, it should be noted that a progressive working legal framework for combating trafficking in person was formed in our country and relevant measures were continued in the reporting year.
So, the amendments to the Migration Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan allow foreigners and persons without citizenship affected by trafficking in persons to temporarily living permit in the country without paying state duties, also released them from obligation to engage in paid labor employment.
Last year, Azerbaijan ratified the Convention of the Council of Europe on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Violence, also in the Protocol certified with other Law, - Mechanisms for cooperation in the fight against trafficking in women and children was established with the relevant government agencies of the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
By the amendments to the Law on "Combating Trafficking in persons" and the Law on "Youth Policy" the psychological rehabilitation and psychological correction are included into a social service for victims, and young people became a victim of trafficking in persons included into a risk group.
The government has taken a number of important decisions to increase the amount of benefits paid to victims of relevant offenses during the reintegration period from AZN 400 to AZN 700; Obligations of training institutions training drivers for domestic and international passenger and cargo transportation - to teach topics related to trafficking in persons were defined.
Enlightenment activities were continued and new methods and means of public information were preferred, such as the introduction of e-learning modules, seminars and campaigns on social networks.
The Ministries of Internal Affairs and Education jointly organized seminars on combating trafficking in persons and forced labor in secondary, vocational and higher education institutions in 55 cities and regions of the country. The law enforcement officers, the representatives of local executive authorities, transport, education, social protection, employment centers, civil society, the media, health workers and entrepreneurs were involved in the events.
With the support of the special police agency, an enlightenment campaign was held in Baku and promotional videos, more than 100,000 promotion materials in different languages, also special programs on TV and radio channels and video portals were prepared and broadcast.
In order to prevent women and juveniles released from serving as victims of trafficking in persons, the meetings were organized with prisoners at the relevant facilities of the Penitentiary Service, and they were provided with necessary information on the protection of their rights and freedoms.
The educational booklets prepared by the Ministry of Health were distributed in all “ASAN service” centers of the republic with the support of the State Agency for Citizen Services and Social Innovations, and were posted on social networks and Internet information resources.
In the framework of a joint project of the State Migration Service and the International Organization for Migration, the seminars on rules of stay and residence, protection from trafficking in persons and forced labor were held with the participation of more than 1,800 foreigners and persons without citizenship.
The Ministries of Labor and Social Protection, Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, the State Committee for Family, Women and Children, city and district executive authorities were closely attended at the enlightenment events. The Ministry of Internal Affairs awarded 18 public associations for their great contribution to the organization of promotion work, including the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations, civil society institutions and the media.
At the same time, the Council of State Support to Non-Governmental Organizations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan allocated 209,000 manats to 20 appropriate projects submitted by non-governmental organizations, from where 105,000 manats was used to finance three shelters and five rehabilitation centers.
The representatives of government agencies and civil society carrying out the fight against trafficking in persons and social rehabilitation were involved in vocational training courses, special police officers - participated in 51 conferences, seminars and trainings in foreign countries and in our country, as well as 17 international events as instructors.
Training on trafficking in persons was organized in special educational institutions, also in the workers of health, social protection and secondary education were involved in the trainings and roundtables on rehabilitation, medical and psychological assistance for the victims of trafficking in persons.
The recruitment of victims and potential victims of trafficking in persons promoted and the basics of professional medical, psychological and other assistance to victims of trafficking in persons were taught in the trainings for entrepreneurs, conducted jointly with foreign and local experts. In 2019, the focus was on raising the quality of interaction with foreign partners and organizations to a new level.
In the meetings with the representatives of the concerned state bodies of the countries of origin and destination, they exchanged views on increasing the intensity of information exchange, simplified mechanisms for returning victims to their countries, extradition of wanted persons and other important issues.
At the same time, the prospects of cooperation in the fight against trafficking in persons were discussed at meetings with representatives of relevant international organizations, the United States Department of State, the Embassy of this country in Azerbaijan, the Turkish Interior Ministry.
During the reporting year, 4 relevant actions were identified by search operations carried out to prevent forced labor. The investigation revealed that 5 out of 6 victims were exploited in the construction industry in the Russian Federation, and 1 minor was forced to begging in the republic. Each fact was investigated and the guilty persons were brought to the court responsibility.
During inspections carried out by the Labor Relations Monitoring Center of the State Agency for Citizen Services and Social Innovations it was revealed that 351 people worked at 120 construction sites without labor or service (civil) contracts. Materials collected on 4 employers were sent to the Prosecutor General's Office, and administrative fines totaling 454,000 manats were imposed on 39 more employer organizations.
As a result of social reforms implemented under the leadership of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, compared to 2018, the 153 thousand increase in the number of labor contracts concluded last year in the country, including 100 thousand to the private sector - was an important factor in the prevention of forced labor, also the elimination of informal employment.
Other important measures in this field is the identification and administrative prosecution of 11,564 foreigners violating the rules of stay and residence in the country, and the administrative removal of 8,093 of them from the country.
During raids conducted to prevent child labor, 430 children were identified working outside the family environment, pedagogical and social media, working on the streets and begging. Studies have shown that only one of them is a victim of forced labor.
As the criminal was not identified on other cases, administrative sanctions were imposed on 180 parents who did not fulfill their responsibilities related to the education of their children, as well as 670 materials were sent to commissions and other relevant organizations under the local executive authorities.
The "DOST" centers of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population - monitored the residences of 78 adopted children and provided the necessary social assistance to each of them.
İt should be noted that due to the suspension of inspections of business entities in accordance with the relevant legislation, in recent years, monitoring is not carried out to detect the facts of forced labor in agriculture, catering and other areas. However, taking into consideration the importance of the issue, a request was made by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to restore these inspections. The activities in the field of detection of trafficking in persons and prosecution of the guilty persons were also purposeful.
As a result of conducted operational-research activities, 36 crimes related to 186 trafficking in persons, including 4 forced labor, also illegal actions with documents for the purpose of trafficking in persons were registered, 4 criminal groups consisted of 10 people were neutralized, 54.3% (19) out of 35 wanted persons arrested. The investigation of 27 cases of trafficking in persons and forced labor was completed, 27 defendants (5 men, 22 women) were prosecuted, and the decisions were resolved on 42 traffickers.
Out of the 91 victims of trafficking in persons identified in 2019 (85 women, 5 men, 1 child), 89 were citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan and 2 were foreigners (citizens of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan). 54 victims were taken to the Republic of Turkey for exploitation, 16 to the State of Qatar, 8 to the Islamic Republic of Iran, 5 to the Russian Federation, 5 to the United Arab Emirates and 3 to Azerbaijan.
78 persons of them were placed in the shelter of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and each of them was provided with medical, psychological and legal assistance in cooperation with the Assistance Center of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection and non-governmental organizations.
As a result, 14 victims were provided with jobs, 45 were sent to vocational courses, 58 were returned to their families and each was paid an allowance according to the relevant decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan (400 manats until June 04, 2019, 700 manats in the subsequent period).
The children of the victims were also kept in focus, 22 children were directed to the preschool education program, 15 were provided with alimony and 18 were supported to obtain the necessary documents.
6845 appeals received by the “152” call service on labor activity, education, marriages with foreigners, domestic violence, temporary registration of migrants, adoption and other issues were investigated and legal measures were taken, the necessary explanations were given to the initiators.
Daily monitoring of Internet information resources and mass media was carried out, information on trafficking in persons, its various forms and about 100 illegal actions against public morality were revealed and thoroughly investigated. The measures were taken in accordance with the legislation on 4 confirmed facts.
In general, 53 illegal actions against public morality were identified and 27 people were prosecuted and 779 people were brought to administrative responsibility.
The fight against the illegal transplantation of human organs was also in the focus, and a transnational organized criminal group engaged in these acts was neutralized by the State Security Service.
In general, during the years of 2005-2019, when the fight against trafficking in persons in the Republic of Azerbaijan was carried out on a legal level, thanks to the strong political will of the state, institutional reforms were carried out in accordance with international practice, necessary organizational and practical measures were carried out.
During this period, which is characterized by a steady rise in the standards of fighting against trafficking in persons, great activity carried out to maintain the country's economic growth, increase in employment of people and improve living standards is also significant in solving the problem of trafficking in persons.
In those years, when three state programs were implemented, dozens of legislative acts were adopted, and our country joined most international documents in the fight against trafficking in persons.
Civil society representatives and the mass media were widely used to inform the public about the dangers of trafficking in persons, and the state supported non-governmental organizations that selected for their initiative in this field.
Over the past 15 years, 570 people have been prosecuted on 1,514 cases of trafficking in persons and forced labor, and 976 victims have been identified.
Also, there are many measures that have to be taken in the fight against trafficking in persons. The targets for the coming years are: to further increase the effectiveness of criminal prosecution, operational-research activities, enlightenment activities, protection and social rehabilitation of victims, and to develop international cooperation.
Necessary measures in certain direction are being systematically continued in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan, decrees and orders of the President, and the international obligations of our country.