UNODC in Turkmenistan invited national and international practitioners to share international judicial cooperation and mutual legal assistance in transnational trafficking in persons cases

On 19 - 20 July, 2022 on the observance of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, UNODC in Turkmenistan jointly with USAID Safe Migration in Central Asia Programme and Winrock International and in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the State Migration Service of Turkmenistan, the Supreme Court of Turkmenistan, the Prosecutor General's Office of Turkmenistan held a two-day practical workshop on International judicial cooperation and mutual legal assistance (MLA) in transnational trafficking in persons cases.    


Human Trafficking is a serious crime and a violation of human rights defined in international law. Being a global and widespread crime, it shows persistent low levels of prosecutions and convictions of traffickers. In order to deliver effective responses to this heinous crime and with the aim to strengthen international judicial cooperation and promote the provision of mutual legal assistance between countries of origin, transit and destination during the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons cases, the workshop brought together trafficking in persons practitioners from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Armenia, Greece, Turkey, and Germany.   


In the welcoming remarks, Mr. Chary Atayev, UNODC National Programme Coordinator in Turkmenistan, noted: “Transnational organized criminal groups engaged in human trafficking exploit existing gaps in the laws of countries to carry out their criminal activities. That is why strengthening international judicial cooperation based on a sound legal framework adopted by countries of origin, transit and destination is crucial to countering these criminal groups. In this regard, one of the areas of work of UNODC is to assist governments in the adoption or revision of their respective legislative and legal acts, as well as to strengthen the capacity of competent authorities in the field of international cooperation in criminal matters and mutual legal assistance”.


Ms. Shemshat Muhammetkulieva, USAID Safe Migration in Central Asia Programme Country Coordinator for Turkmenistan highlighted: “Human trafficking requires a coordinated response to guarantee a safe and secure life and ensure the rule of law, prosperity, and sustainable development both locally and internationally. Transnational organized criminal groups involved in human trafficking use various methods to expand their activities. Strengthening international judicial, supervisory, and consular cooperation based on a strong legal framework adopted by countries of origin, transit and destination is crucial in countering these organized criminal groups”.


Dr. Reda Sirgediene, UNODC Regional Adviser on Countering TIP and Smuggling of Migrants for Central Asia, shared with the partners the information based on the European practices, in her speech she also mentioned: “From my experience of 22 years in countering trafficking in persons, I would say that the majority of investigated crimes are related to other countries – even if we conduct a domestic trafficking in persons investigation, quite often we have to apply to another country to collect evidence or to verify information, or to search missing victims or wanted criminals, or to trace criminal assets in other countries, and etc. International cooperation is really crucial and even if we have a disruptive investigation, for example, we stop traffickers with a victim on the borders of the country, we anyway need to apply to another country for the mentioned reasons”.

The participants of the workshop discussed the role that international cooperation can play in the joint activities on countering trafficking in persons.


Mr. Panagiotis Maniatis, Deputy National Member for Greece at European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), Public Prosecutor presented the information about the importance of networks for strengthening international cooperation, operational works in TIPs issues, mechanism of joint investigation teams, and case studies from Eurojust case work. He highlighted that as per best practices early cooperation and coordination between all countries in active contributing to evidence gathering can cause effective results in dismantling the organized crime groups involved in human trafficking preferably by conducting investigation in each jurisdiction. 

Mr. Tilek Kudoyarov, representative of General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO) in Kyrgyz Republic, Mr. Temur Tsindeliani, representative of GPO in Georgia, Mr. Tigran Pogosyan, representative of GPO in the Republic of Armenia shared with partners their cases studies, features, experience and achievement in countering human trafficking in their countries basing on the international cooperation, as well as shared the existing problems that need to be solved and offers to strengthen transnational cooperation in legislative area to encourage highly integrated partnerships impacting beyond national boundaries. 

Maruf Khakhimov, UNODC National Project Officer made an overview of the UNODC International Judicial Cooperation Tools and practical session and called the partners to use The Judicial Cooperation Network for Central Asia and Southern Caucasus (CASC network) for the practical and other issues in CTIPs cases.

Mr. Christian Schierholt, head of the Department at Prosecutor General’s Office Celle, Lower Saxony and head of Central Unit for Organized Crime and Corruption, European Judicial Network Contact Point from Germany shared his view and the experience related to the importance of international cooperation in the investigation of transnational crimes, including trafficking in persons and he pointed out on the importance to make direct contacts with the international partners for the quick cooperation to receive a prompt respond to the requests in the process of investigation of transnational human trafficking crimes.

Judge Dr. Muhammet Zeybek, from the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Turkey shared his experience on mutual legal assistance in Turkey, shared the features of Turkish legislation and legislative acts on MLA, trainings provided to representatives of law enforcement agencies and joined the opinion of all the partners on the importance to establish communications between the countries in strengthening MLA. 

At the end of the meeting the parties discussed the most effective ways of interaction in countering trafficking in persons both at the national and international levels.  Following the meeting, the parties agreed to continue working together on combating human trafficking through strengthening MLA.

This two-day practical workshop was a part of a series of capacity-building and technical assistance initiatives that UNODC delivers in cooperation with Winrock International to further support the law enforcement and judiciary of Turkmenistan in the development of international cooperation in trafficking in persons cases.


For more information please contact:

 Arifa Fatikhova

Communications and External Relations Officer

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Regional Office for Central Asia

30a, Abdulla Kahhor street,

Tashkent, 100100 Uzbekistan

Tel.: (+998 78) 120 8050 (Ext. 147)

Mobile: (+998 93) 505-05-58 | Email: arifa.fatikhova[a]