Victims not Villains - Tajik Prosecutors and Judges Discuss Good Practices in Investigation and Prosecution of Human Trafficking  

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) partnered with the General Prosecutor's Office and the Supreme Court of Tajikistan to demonstrate 2 training films on the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking.

Entitled "Victims not Villains", the series consists of 2 films, one focusing on good practices in relation to interviewing vulnerable victims and witnesses of human trafficking and another on the role of prosecutors, judges and lawyers in ensuring that court proceedings in which trafficked persons are involved, are not prejudicial to their rights, dignity, physical or psychological well-being. The second educational film "Victims not Villains: Prosecuting Cases of Trafficking in Persons in accordance with International Standards" also discusses commonly encountered defense strategies and how prosecutors can counter these when arguing the case.

"Trafficking in Persons in all its forms is a transnational organized crime. The General Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Tajikistan cooperates with anti-trafficking subjects and other authorized bodies, as well as with civil society and international organizations on anti-trafficking issues, on a regular basis by exchanging information and taking measures to detect, suppress and prevent cases of trafficking in persons, including assisting victims of trafficking", said Mr. Farrukh Raupov, Deputy Head of Preliminary Investigation Department in General Prosecutor's Office.

Some 20 prosecutors and 60 trainee judges viewed and discussed the training films at the training centers of the General Prosecutor's Office and the Supreme Court in Dushanbe. UNODC also presented its Case Digest on evidential issues in trafficking in persons cases at a round table which gathered some 30 representatives of State bodies, international organizations, civil society and victim support providers.

The Case Digest, which is due for publication in Russian this year, aims to assist criminal justice practitioners in addressing recurring evidential issues that are typical to trafficking in persons cases. It can help practitioners build a trafficking case; it can give them an arsenal of tools to deal with common evidential weaknesses; it analyzes cases in depth, thus showing how the interplay of different evidential patterns leads to a conviction or an exoneration.

The Case Digest has analyzed 135 cases from 31 jurisdictions and provides the reader, based on these real cases tried, with a range of options and possibilities to deal with particular evidential challenges. Most cases are drawn from UNODC's Human Trafficking Case Law Database, set up within UNODC's SHERLOC knowledge management portal.

"UNODC stands ready to assist the Tajik authorities to develop capacities of law enforcement and judicial bodies to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate trafficking in persons cases", Ms. Amelia Hannaford noted at the roundtable, which allowed for a frank discussion on the current situation with human trafficking in Tajikistan and the broader Central Asia region and related training needs, based on data recently published in the UNODC 2018 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.

As guardian of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Protocols, UNODC supports efforts to strengthen law enforcement responses to trafficking in persons in Tajikistan within the framework of the 2015-2019 UNODC Program for Central Asia with generous financial support from the Government of the United States.

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