Trafficking in Persons Report
Jim Clancy is giving you the scoop on the latest report out of the State Department, the Trafficking in Persons Report. He does a great job of reading from that screen, doesn’t he? Using the stats from last year, he’s explaining the basic guidelines used in sizing up a country’s measure of their efforts to combat human trafficking, according to the United States Department of State.
Which brings us to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is placed on the Tier 2 Watch List (“2W” on Jim’s fancy graphic above). You can read the section of the report featuring Azerbaijan by clicking here (pdf, pages 18-20 of the document).
Overall, while things aren’t the most rosy when it comes to Azerbaijan’s Trafficking in Persons evaluation, the report does note some of the successes that the government has achieved in spreading awareness of human trafficking problems and providing seminars to educate various sectors of the population about human trafficking issues. We can appreciate efforts like this:
The government ran trafficking awareness public service announcements, developed by NGOs, on major TV networks. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, in cooperation with NGOs, conducted 53 anti-trafficking seminars, targeted primarily at high school and university students and local government officials, including police, immigration officers, customs and border police, Ministry of National Security officers, and health authorities. The government estimates that approximately 4,500 individuals from these groups attended these seminars.
At the same time, however, we still need to recognize that this is a Tier 2 Watch List country. The trafficking does go on and, at the moment, institutions do not have the training or capacity to fully address the problems that allow women and children from Azerbaijan to be forced into sex trafficking in the UAE, Turkey, Russia, and Iran. Indeed, the report repeatedly points to law enforcement as the weak link allowing human trafficking to continue. The training and standards for law enforcement officials are likely not high enough to actually make a difference. Instead, they are ill-equipped to enforce the well-regarded law on human trafficking adopted in 2005, and the more recently sanctioned action plan enacted by the government in 2009:
The Government of Azerbaijan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The Government of Azerbaijan has not made sufficient progress in investigating, prosecuting, or convicting labor trafficking offenses or in identifying victims of forced labor; therefore, Azerbaijan is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a fourth consecutive year. Azerbaijan was not placed on Tier 3 per Section 107 of the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, however, as the government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan. During the reporting period, the government acknowledged that forced labor is a problem within Azerbaijan and investigated at least three reports of forced labor. It did not, however, prosecute or convict any trafficking offenders for forced labor.
So there you have it. The State Department has spoken and has found that Azerbaijan is making a little progress, but could be doing a lot better. One idea we might return to that is highlighted here is that Azerbaijani laws are often well-written. Even their constitution is regarded as a fairly good document. Yet, they remain just documents, without what we would understand as the “force of law” behind them.
Update, 6/28/2011: Sorry for the technical difficulties. The video I tried to embed above isn’t coming through… You can watch Jim Clancy by clicking here, until further notice.
Update II, 6/28/2011:
Fixed! Thanks to Youtube. Not thanks to CNN’s failed embed link. Nope. Still broken. I left the link there.