Eastern Europe

Countries and territories covered: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan

1. Status of the legislation on trafficking in persons

Most of the countries of this region have legislation in force defining and criminalizing trafficking in persons. The only exception is Turkmenistan, which adopted some provisions in 2007, but did not establish a specific offence of trafficking in persons in its criminal code. Legislation on trafficking in persons are not new in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Most of the countries had legislation on related crimes or on partial aspects of the crime even before signing the UN Trafficking Protocol. Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova adopted laws on trafficking in persons before 2003 that were still in force in 2008. However, most of the countries established new legislation between 2003 and 2008. Where legislation already existed, it criminalized at least trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation and forced labour, with no restrictions concerning the age or gender of the victim.

The criminal justice systems within this region tended to apply specific trafficking in persons legislation where available, but laws on various non-trafficking specific offences also were used frequently. In several countries of the region, the offences of "recruitment for exploitation", "pandering", "sexual exploitation" or similar charges were used to prosecute traffickers as a side offence of trafficking in persons or even as the only offence when some elements of the trafficking process were difficult to prove. At regional level, the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) established a plan of cooperation in 2005 to combat trafficking in persons and the trafficking of human organs and tissues. Similarly, the programme for cooperation, among the CIS countries to combat trafficking in persons for the period 2007-2010 was approved by the Council of Heads of States of the CIS on 28 November 2006.

2. The criminal justice response to trafficking in persons

Statistics on the criminal justice responses were relatively abundant for most of the countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia during the reporting period. The only exception was Turkmenistan where the absence of legislation is the clear cause of the lack of related statistics. The number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions indicated no unique trends. However, many countries experienced a rise in prosecutions and convictions immediately after the adoption of relevant legislation, which was then followed by a slight reduction in later years.

For instance, some countries in the western part of the region (Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia) saw moderately growing trends in prosecutions and convictions in the first half of this decade followed by a decrease in prosecutions and convictions after 2005, and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in Central Asia experienced similar trends. In Moldova and the Russian Federation, increasing investigations and prosecutions indicate a consistent rise in the detection of traffickers. Uzbekistan showed the same pattern based on prosecutions recorded under the offence of "recruitment for exploitation". At the regional level during the period under consideration, joint operations were frequently conducted by law enforcement agencies of the CIS countries to suppress the activities of criminal syndicates engaged in trafficking in persons.

3. Trafficking in persons patterns

The clear pattern that emerges from criminal justice data from this region is that females not only make up a large proportion of the traffickers that are investigated, prosecuted and convicted, but outnumber males in most of the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The vast majority of convicted offenders are nationals of the country in which they were detected. When foreigners were convicted or prosecuted, they most often came from another country in the region.

Information available on victim profiles indicates that the majority were adult women. Only a limited number of child victims were reported, but their numbers were increasing throughout the region during the reporting period. Trafficking for forced labour was a frequently reported form of exploitation in countries where information was available. However, the great majority of victims identified by State authorities were trafficked for sexual exploitation. A few cases of trafficking for the purpose of forced marriage were detected by authorities in Central Asia, and cases of trafficking for organ removal were identified and prosecuted in Moldova.