Exchange visits as learning and networking tool: the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Turkey strengthen international cooperation

Ankara and Antalya, Republic of Turkey - 15 May 2019 - UNODC, under the framework of the Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants ( GLO.ACT ), organized for a delegation of 6 high-ranking officials from the Kyrgyz State Migration Service and the Ministry of Interior to take part in an exchange visit to the Republic of Turkey from 26 February to 1 March 2019.

Kyrgyzstan is a party to a number of legal assistance and extradition agreements, including the Agreement on Cooperation of the Member Countries of the Commonwealth of the Independent States on Combating Trafficking in Persons, Human Organs and Tissues. However, information exchange between relevant migration services and criminal justice institutions of destination countries on investigative, prosecutorial and judicial matters related to Trafficking in Persons (TIP) remains a major challenge and few criminal cases lead to convictions.

Stakeholders considered the country cooperated effectively with Russia and Kazakhstan - the main destinations for TIP for the purpose of forced labour. There is not, however, effective cooperation with the Republic of Turkey, which is one of the main destinations for victims of sexual exploitation trafficked from the Kyrgyz Republic. Recent TIP cases that made it onto social media platforms were highlighted in relevant meetings of the government and a request was made for the State Migration Service to improve international cooperation with destination countries such as Turkey, especially with regards to TIP for the purpose labour and sexual exploitation. It was also suggested that to prevent TIP cases a residential offices would need to be set up cities such as Ankara and Antalya, and that awareness raising activities for migrants working in the Republic of Turkey be conducted.

The exchange visit included bilateral meetings of Kyrgyz officials with the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Services of the Republic of Turkey, the representatives of the General Directorate of Migration Policy under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Police Departments of Ankara, Antalya and Belek cities. Additionally, meetings with Kyrgyz migrant workers and Kyrgyz diaspora in Turkey were organized in partnership with Kyrgyz Embassy to the Republic of Turkey and local private employment companies to increase awareness raising on procedures and rules for employment in the Republic of Turkey, on risks of possible TIP and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) cases, as well as existing TIP victim's assistance procedures in the Republic of Turkey, including hotline and relevant referral mechanisms.

Speaking on challenges of intelligence-led investigation and prosecution of TIP related crimes, Mr. Abdullah Ayaz, the Head of General Directorate of Migration Policy under the Ministry of Internal Affairs noted that in 2018, 14 victims of human trafficking were identified by the Turkish police who are the citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic, and at the same time a criminal case was initiated against a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic on the basis of TIP crime. UNODC 2018 Global Report on TIP in fact points out that victims and traffickers often have the same citizenship and very often come from the same place, speak the same language or have the same ethnic background. Such commonalities help traffickers generate trust to carry out the trafficking crime.

The exchange visit of Kyrgyz officials to the destination country significantly contributed to enhance not only international cooperation on TIP and SOM, but also to enhance networking among criminal justice practitioners of both countries which will enable more effective information exchanges on intelligence-led joint investigations. Additionally, a first round of consultations on establishment of the official representation of the Kyrgyz State Migration Service in the cities of Ankara and Antalya will ensure safe labour migration and will contribute counter-trafficking efforts by the government of the Kyrgyz Republic. Over 100 Kyrgyz migrants are now more aware about the possible risks of TIP cases and relevant TIP victim's assistance in the Republic of Turkey, including hotline and victims' referral mechanisms. Over 10 private employment companies of the Republic of Turkey agreed to closely cooperate with State Migration Service under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic to ensure safe employment of Kyrgyz citizens in Turkey.

A press conference was organized by the Kyrgyz State Migration Service in Kyrgyzstan to debrief and highlight the main results of the exchange visit.

The Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) is a four-year (2015-2019), €11 million joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The project is being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). GLO.ACT aims to provide assistance to governmental authorities and civil society organizations across 13 strategically selected countries: Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, South Africa, Ukraine.  GLO.ACT works with the 13 countries to plan and implement strategic national counter-trafficking and counter smuggling efforts through a prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships approach. It supports the development of more effective responses to trafficking and smuggling, including providing assistance to victims of trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and direct support mechanisms.

 

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Raushan Bolotalieva

GLO.ACT National Programme Officer

raushan.bolotalieva@un.org

www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/glo-act/

Email: unodc-glo.act@un.org

Twitter:       @glo_act