Kyrgyzstan debates UNODC-supported new Government Programme against human trafficking

The Programme office on United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Kyrgyzstan (UNODC POKYR) and the State Migration Service under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic gathered some 50 Government officials, experts from crisis centres, victim support groups, other civil society and international organisations in Bishkek last week to discuss a draft new Government Programme and National Action Plan against Trafficking in Persons for Kyrgyzstan for 2017-2020 years.

"No country is immune from trafficking in persons", said Koen Marquering, UNODC International Coordinator at the roundtable discussion. "This is also true for Kyrgyzstan where migration flows are traditionally intense and vulnerability of migrants to various forms of exploitation high", Marquering added.

As part of the process for the development of the new action plan, an interdepartmental working group assessed the level of implementation of the previous national action plan against trafficking in persons, which expired in 2016. The evaluation showed an overall implementation of the programme for 2013-2016 rate of over 70%, but also emphasized several gaps and challenges.

According to Almazbek Asambayev, deputy chairman of the Kyrgyz State Migration Service, the previous Action Plan for 2013-2016 carried out a great work in changing legislation. "The Criminal Code has an article, which is aimed at preventing and punishing organization of human trafficking."

Participants of the roundtable stressed the need for better coordination, monitoring and evaluation of such action plans, as well as proper funding, in particular for shelters.  The analysis also gathered data on the prosecution of human trafficking in Kyrgyzstan. Between 2013 and 2016, 50 criminal cases were brought to court, which resulted in the conviction of 62 for labor or sexual exploitation.

"The new action plan foresees work on the further improvement of legislation, the establishment of a national referral mechanism, concerted action to prevent trafficking in persons and raise awareness on the risks of exploitation, as well as efforts to promote interagency and international cooperation, more effective investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, and victim support", said Aidakeeva Baktygul, leading specialist of the labor migration abroad at the Kyrgyz State Migration Service when presented the new Government Programme to roundtable participants.

Thanks to funding provided by the US State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), Programme Office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Kyrgyzstan supports efforts to prevent and prosecute trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants within the framework of its Programme for Central Asia 2015-2019.