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Human Trafficking Became More Active

16.11.2006
trafficking.gifTraffickers use Azerbaijan and Georgia as principal transit countries for their activities. However, residents from these countries become the victims quite frequently. Statistics for 2005 stated the following: 231 trafficked girls, 58 apprehended traffickers and 14 organized trafficking groups.   
The Director of the Emigrants Legal Aid Centre in Azerbaijan, Alovsat Alievi, spoke to the 'Human Rights Centre' regarding trafficking problem in his country. He said, "Azerbaijan is considered to be a transit country in the Caucasus. Potential victims are especially from Central Asia, Belarus, Russia and Moldova. They use Nakhchivan to enter the country. The planes land there and then they leave for Turkey and Iran. Azerbaijan has become a transit country for Pakistan recently."

HRIDC:Since the traffickers transport girls by air, that must mean that the girls have all the necessary documents?

A. A. The girls arrive in Azerbaijan with their documents and visas in order. These are arranged by organized groups. The documents show that the girls have lived in Azerbaijan for a year. Consequently, it is easy to take them to a third country. In the past, victims were transported to Dubai from Azerbaijan. Recently, they have been taken to Pakistan, Turkey and Iran.

HRIDC: Do only local traffickers work in Azerbaijan or they are from other countries as well? 
A. A. Criminals are from Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey, and they cooperate with each other. For example, a Russian group collects girls in Russia and brings them to Azerbaijan. The second group takes them to a third country where they are met by a destination group. It is organized crime, and the first two groups are paid by the last group that uses the girls for prostitution. Although the government fights the problem, the number of trafficking crimes has been increasing.

HRIDC:You say that Azerbaijan is considered to be a transit country, but I remember in years passed when it was considered a destination country.

A. A. I agree with you. Azerbaijan is a destination country, too. Trafficked women arrive particularly from Asia, Georgia, Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus.  

HRIDC:  There are several problems for trafficked women when they ask the police for help in any country. What similar delays do they face in Azerbaijan?

A. A. The women are locked up, and they cannot talk on the phone. Fortunately, the women live in good conditions; they are well fed to have energy, but they are deceived.  Traffickers told the victims that they were going to pay them money as soon as the traffickers were reimbursed by the women for their expenses. They force them to serve men sexually. The girls are distributed to different places, for example in hotels or private houses, and cannot leave the place. They work in saunas, night clubs and criminals promise them much money.

Initially, when the girls arrive in the country traffickers offer them six-month work and promise 6 000 USD at the end. Nobody rejects the proposal. Finally traffickers do not need the girls any more, because they are afraid of them to appeal the police and buy plane tickets to send them home. Criminals carry on their work accurately and never lose anything. 

Journalist:As far as I know labor trafficking is as widespread as sexual one in Azerbaijan.

A. A. It is common problem for post soviet countries. The reason is lack of employment contract.  People are employed but when he/she asks for money the employer says he will pay them when he has money. “If you do not like, you can go.” I know that this problem is too serious in Georgia too. Do you have an employment contract? It is also labor trafficking.

Labor trafficking is an issue of the day in Turkey.  Many victims arrive from Russia and Azerbaijan there. Trafficked victims were even murdered in Turkey and Dubai. Many Azerbaijan people became victims in Turkey two-three years ago. This year sixteen people became only.

Journalist:The whole world fights against the problem but traffickers’ number and power increase. Is there any way out?

A. A. People travel to foreign countries because their rights are violated and can not live properly in their native countries. If everybody feels well, they would not go anywhere. Besides that poverty is not the only reason for the departure. Impoverished people have no resources to go abroad and those people who are oppressed go abroad. Parentless children are also potential victims of trafficking. Government should increase its concern about them.

Children are not allowed to leave orphan houses after eighteen. The government should give them accommodation. Thirty-eight facts of children’s trafficking were discovered in Azerbaijan.

Journalist:What is the general statistics of trafficking in Azerbaijan?

A. A. In 2005 we had 231 trafficked victims in the country. They were from various countries. Eleven of them were from Uzbekistan and one was from Kyrgyz. Fifty-one cases of trafficking were revealed within nine months this year. They were from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Russia and the Ukraine. Destination countries are Emirates, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and the USA, where victims are transported from Azerbaijan. Fifty-eight traffickers have been detained this year; eleven of them were men and forty-seven women. Fourteen organized groups were revealed so far.

Eka Gulua

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