UNODC and Association of Women Judges introduce innovative training techniques to promote victim-oriented and trauma-informed investigation and prosecution of human trafficking in Kyrgyzstan

Human trafficking is a crime that knows no borders or limits.  Anyone of any age, anywhere in the world can be affected. Targeted action remains needed to stop this crime and support victims who often undergo multiple forms of abuse and exploitation.


Avoiding re-traumatization of victims by the criminal justice system is crucial, not only for the success of the victims’ rehabilitation but also the success of the investigation and prosecution of the crime of trafficking in persons. In an effort to promote victim-oriented and trauma-informed investigation and prosecution, UNODC supports Kyrgyzstan through several evidence-based training and capacity building activities. The most recent and innovative training conducted was in the form of mock trials.


A unique and innovative approach, a mock trial is “an imitation of public court hearings which prepare a group of practitioners to investigate human trafficking cases under a specific legal system. These trainings typically include a simulated investigation of a crime scene, followed by the interrogation of suspects and interview of victims, case file preparation, and a simulated public court hearing,” explained Mr. Koen Marquering, International Manager of the UNODC Criminal Justice Programme in Central Asia.


What made this mock trial particularly unique in Kyrgyzstan is that judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and investigators tried different criminal justice practitioners’ roles outside of their own during the simulation of a court proceeding.


UNODC and the Kyrgyz Association of Women Judges conducted the mock trials in Osh, Cholpon-Ata and Bishkek from 15 February until 1 March and reached over 100 criminal justice practitioners all over the country.

The format also allows participants to “analyse various forms and existing complexities of such cases and challenges. Mock trial exercises provide an opportunity to discuss the different and often overlapping forms of exploitation, the issue of victim consent, the abuse of a position of vulnerability, as well as the differences and possible interconnections between trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants”, Mr Marquering continued.


In order to bring forth the victim-oriented and trauma-informed approach, the practitioners also took on the role of victims and perpetrators during the mock proceeding. “We designed the mock trials to draw the attention of law enforcement officers, judges, and prosecutors to the state of trafficking victims during the process, to clearly understand how the victim feels and avoid revictimization,” emphasized Ms Chinara Aidarbekova, Chair of the Supervisory Board of the Kyrgyz Association of Women Judges, and a former judge of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic.


In order to institutionalize this approach, UNODC, with the support of the US Government, developed “Methodological Guidelines on Preparing and Implementing Mock Trials for Criminal Justice Practitioners on Countering Trafficking in Persons in the Kyrgyz Republic”. It is expected that this methodology will be introduced to the curriculum of the High School of Justice under the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan, the Educational Centre for Prosecutors, the Academy of the Ministry of Interior, and the Educational Centre of Lawyers of the Kyrgyz Republic. A study video, which was recorded during the mock trial sessions in February, will be produced and provided to the educational institutions as a supplement to the manual.

During the mock trials, the participants had to work on a real case study of a young woman who dreamed of working abroad but ended up experiencing exploitation with no access to help. Afterwards participants debriefed on the mock court proceedings, analysed the shortcomings and made several recommendations to improve each other’s skills


“There are international requirements on the treatment of victims of human trafficking, and during court hearings, it is important to avoid re-victimizing questions. We must understand that human trafficking is a crime against a person and, first of all, we must protect the rights and interests of the victim throughout the entirety of the criminal justice process,” said Nurzhan Tulegabylova, head of “El Agartuu” NGO, who acted as an observer at the mock trials.


For more information, contact Vasilina Brazhko

Communication and PR Specialist

UNODC Criminal Justice Programme in Central Asia


+996775987817 Whatsapp/Cell phone

vasilina.brazhko [at]