Just as combating human trafficking is an important part of IOM’s mandate internationally, so it is also in Tajikistan. IOM assists the Government of Tajikistan in developing new legal mechanisms and improving relevant legislation in order to make it easier to help victims of trafficking and prosecute the traffickers, as well as raising awareness, particularly of vulnerable segments of the society, on the threats of human trafficking and to know what their legal rights are.
To be able to support themselves and their families about a million Tajik citizens live and work outside of their home country for most part of the year. These Tajik migrant workers, who sometimes have an inadequate level of knowledge on host countries’ languages, legislation, and of their own legal rights, are at a high risk of being subjected to labour exploitation. Additionally, within Tajikistan, underprivileged women, especially belonging to families of migrant workers, are vulnerable to human traffickers who traffic them abroad or to larger cities to exploit them sexually or as domestic slaves.
Through series of theatrical performances IOM Tajikistan teaches audience about the threat of human trafficking by showing real problems and the current forms of trafficking in persons, as well as how to keep themselves and their families safe from traffickers. Qurghonteppa, 20 May 2016. Photo by Abdulfattoh Shafiev
To specify, according to the Government of the United States of America’s annual report on global human trafficking for 2016, Tajik men and women are subjected to forced labor in agriculture and construction in Russia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and, to a lesser extent, in neighboring Central Asian countries. Women and children from Tajikistan are subjected to sex trafficking primarily in UAE and Russia, and also in Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan, as well as within Tajikistan. Some cases of senior citizens being trafficked are unfortunately also seen.
Since 2003, IOM Tajikistan has implemented 13 national and 5 regional projects in the field of trafficking in persons. The traditional donors supporting IOM’s work to combat trafficking in persons in Tajikistan are USAID, INL (Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs) and the MFA of Norway. Through the course of its activity the IOM Mission in Tajikistan has directly assisted nearly 700 victims of trafficking. The assistance provided to victims of human trafficking includes support in voluntary and safe return to their homeland, provision of shelter, and legal, psychological and medical assistance, vocational training courses, and assisting them with starting up small income-generating businesses.
IOM Tajikistan in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Migration, and Employment of Population of the Republic of Tajikistan organizes job fairs for returnee migrants and vulnerable groups of society. Bokhtar district, 11 May 2017
To create safe spaces for some of these victims IOM has established specialised shelters for victims of human trafficking in two different locations in the country - Dushanbe and Buston (Khujand). In addition to offering guests a place to stay with up-to-standard living conditions, human trafficking survivors staying there benefit from legal, medical, and psychosocial assistances provided by experts. Since 2013, the administration of these shelters has been handed over to local implementing partners: the NGO “Femida” (Dushanbe) and the NGO “Women and Society” (Buston).
IOM Tajikistan organized a two-day training on “Human Trafficking, Labour Migrants’ Rights, Migration Threats” for journalists. Dushanbe, 11 July 2016. Photo by Abdulfattoh Shafiev
Prepared with IOM’s technical assistance, the adoption in 2014 of the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan on ‘Counteracting Trafficking in Persons and Providing Support to Victims of Trafficking in Persons’, is considered a major milestone for the Government of Tajikistan. Prior to that, another significant step forward in fighting trafficking in persons has been the establishment of the Tajikistan Inter-Ministerial Commission on Combating trafficking in Persons (IMCCTiP). Furthermore, the Government of Tajikistan has recently adopted a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) which is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking or modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support. The mechanism clarifies what responsibilities different government agencies bear in the protection of victims. This shows the government’s renewed commitment to forcefully counter human trafficking.
Employees of Tajikistan embassies and consulates abroad participate at the training on combatting human trafficking. Dushanbe, 01 June 2016. Photo by Abdulfattoh Shafiev
Likewise, the work NGO partners active out in the field put in towards combating trafficking in persons is of great importance to IOM. To improve the support they can collectively provide, some committed NGO have joined together in an anti-trafficking network. This network of NGOs is invaluable since their tight collaboration and constant presence out in the communities makes it easier for them to reach out to the most vulnerable segments of society, raise awareness on the threats of human trafficking, and detect and provide direct assistance to the victims.
The International Organization for Migration represented by Mr Dragan Aleksoski, IOM Tajikistan Chief of Mission, (left) and the Tajikistan Network of Non-Governmental Organizations “Umed” represented by Ms. Sanoat Solieva, NGO “Femida” founder, (right) signed a memorandum on cooperation to protect migrants’ rights and counter human trafficking. Dushanbe, 21 December 2016. Photo by Abdulfattoh Shafiev
Unfortunately, trafficking in persons remains a serious issue both globally and nationally. With close continued cooperation with the Tajik civil society, donors, the Government of Tajikistan and other relevant agencies, IOM Tajikistan is dedicated to continue the work carried out in order to save as many vulnerable individuals as possible from the perils of human trafficking.