The Kyrgyz Republic (or Kyrgyzstan) is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor, and for women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Kyrgyzstani men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor primarily in Russia and Kazakhstan, and to a lesser extent in Turkey and other Eastern European countries. They are also subjected to forced labor primarily within the country’s agricultural, forestry, construction, and textile industries, as well as in domestic service and child care. In 2012, 26 Kyrgyzstani forced laborers were identified in Finland. Kyrgyzstani women are subjected to forced prostitution abroad, reportedly in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Russia, Kazakhstan, and within the country. Small numbers of women and children from Uzbekistan are subjected to sex trafficking in Kyrgyzstan. Some men and women from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan transit the Kyrgyz Republic as they migrate to Russia, the UAE, and Turkey, where they subsequently become victims of sex and labor trafficking. Kyrgyzstani boys and girls are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, including the forced selling and distribution of drugs, within the country. NGOs continue to report that some schools in the south of the country cancel classes in the fall to send children to pick cotton, and other schools require children to harvest tobacco on school grounds. Street children who engage in begging and children engaged in domestic work (often in the homes of extended family members) are vulnerable to human trafficking.
The Government of the Kyrgyz Republic does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government provided in-kind contributions to assist NGOs and international organizations in training law enforcement officials, provided the premises used for protection of identified trafficking victims, and worked to raise awareness of the crime. However, the government’s investigation of trafficking crimes decreased and it did not report convicting any traffickers for the second consecutive year. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography alleged the serious and endemic corruption of police officers, who allegedly participated themselves in the detention and rape of child sex trafficking victims. The Kyrgyzstani government took no action to investigate allegations of officials’ complicity in trafficking crimes. It identified few victims and did not adequately protect child victims during the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers.
Recommendations for the Kyrgyz Republic:
Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute suspected trafficking offenses, respecting due process, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, ensuring that the majority of those convicted of trafficking serve time in prison; vigorously investigate and prosecute government officials suspected of being complicit in trafficking or who engage in abuse and exploitation of trafficking victims, and convict and punish complicit government officials; increase efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, such as street children, adult and child agricultural laborers, and Kyrgyzstani migrant workers, and refer those victims to protective services; enact legislation that is consistent with international law and ensure that sex trafficking of minors does not require force, fraud, or coercion and that the penalties for this crime are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with prescribed penalties for other serious crimes such as rape; develop and implement child-sensitive investigation and prosecution procedures for cases in which children may be victims of human trafficking; continue to provide the physical premises for NGO-run shelters; continue to contribute to efforts by international organizations to train police, prosecutors, and judges; ensure that identified victims of trafficking are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; and consider disaggregating anti-trafficking law enforcement data.
The Kyrgyzstani government made limited anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2005 Law on Prevention and Combating Trafficking in Persons, amended in 2011, criminalizes both sex and labor trafficking for adults, and covers a non-trafficking offense—“child adoption for commercial purposes.” In addition, contrary to international law, in its definition of the crime of sex trafficking of children, Kyrgyz law requires the prosecutor to prove that the offender used force, blackmail, fraud, deception, or abduction. The law prescribes penalties of five to 20 years’ imprisonment; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with prescribed penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape. Article 157 of the criminal code makes it a crime to involve a minor in prostitution or begging and prescribes penalties of one to three years’ imprisonment, with an aggravated sentence of up to eight years’ imprisonment if the act is committed with the use or threat of physical violence. The non-aggravated penalty for child prostitution is neither sufficiently stringent nor commensurate with the penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape. Article 15 of the Code on Children prohibits forced child labor. The number of suspected trafficking investigations in 2013 was not reported; six cases were reported investigated in 2012. The government reported prosecuting three defendants for trafficking under the anti-trafficking law, but convicted none in 2013. The government reported that these ongoing cases included one labor trafficking case and two sex trafficking cases; the government also used the trafficking law to investigate seven non-trafficking cases involving adoption for commercial purposes. Some potential trafficking offenses were not investigated or prosecuted due to the lack of awareness of trafficking by law enforcement officials. In addition, corruption is a systemic issue in Kyrgyzstan; the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography documented allegations of law enforcement officials’ complicity in human trafficking. According to the report, police officers allegedly threatened, extorted, and raped child sex trafficking victims. The Government of the Kyrgyz Republic did not report any investigations or prosecutions of government employees for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period. The government provided in-kind contributions, including building space and access to equipment, for a training program for 16 prosecutors from Bishkek and seven provinces. The training focused on identification of victims and investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of trafficking crimes and was organized by an international organization; subsequently, participants were required to conduct a training session for prosecutors in the field.
The Kyrgyzstani government continued to ensure victims’ access to protection services by continuing to provide the premises in which international organizations and NGOs protect and assist victims of trafficking; however, there were allegations that some police did not identify and protect victims of sex trafficking, but rather abused, sexually exploited, and extorted money from victimized children, including child sex trafficking victims. The government did not have formal written procedures to guide officials in proactive identification of trafficking victims among high-risk populations with whom they came into contact. In 2013, the government identified 11 victims, including 10 adults and one child—the same number of victims identified and referred in 2012—and referred all of them to protection services. Kyrgyzstani consular officials assisted a male labor trafficking victim in Russia by providing identity documents and funding for travel to Bishkek. IOM and NGOs assisted 52 victims, 44 of whom were subjected to forced labor in 2013; this is a decrease from 278 victims they identified and assisted in 2012. This decrease was primarily due to reduced donor funding. Although the government did not provide funding to any organization that provided victim assistance in 2013, it continued to provide in-kind assistance to anti-trafficking NGOs, including facilities for three NGO-run shelters that provided services for trafficking victims; 15 victims were supported in these shelters during the reporting period, a significant reduction from 95 assisted the preceding year. Adult victims were able to leave the shelters freely. The government operated, with funding from IOM, a shelter for child victims of trafficking. The shelter provided rehabilitative and social assistance services. The government did not encourage victims to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions and the Special Rapporteur reported that child trafficking victims are often not adequately protected; police do not use child-sensitive procedures when dealing with child victims during the investigation and courts do not use any safeguards to ensure their privacy and protection. Trafficking victims were reportedly punished for crimes they were forced to commit as a direct result of being trafficked. According to the Special Rapporteur, police officers allegedly detained child sex trafficking victims, releasing them only after they performed sexual acts. Kyrgyzstani police extorted bribes from child sex trafficking victims through threats of arrest for prostitution, even though prostitution was neither illegal nor an administrative offense. Unidentified adult victims may have also been penalized when they were arrested following raids on brothels.
The Kyrgyzstani government sustained some progress in trafficking prevention efforts. In November 2013, the government established the Department for Combating Crimes against Public Morality and Human Trafficking. Despite its title, this entity focused on closing brothels rather than proactive anti-trafficking investigations and did so without having procedures in place for identification and protection of potential victims of sex trafficking. During the reporting period, the government transferred responsibility for the human trafficking portfolio from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the newly organized Ministry of Labor, Migration, and Youth. This new ministry monitored the government’s implementation of programs under its 2013-2016 anti-trafficking action plan, provided information prepared by IOM to Kyrgyzstani consular officials and migrants abroad, and operated a center to inform Kyrgyzstani migrants of their labor rights in other countries. The Ministry of Education distributed information on human trafficking in public schools and at higher education institutions to raise awareness of human trafficking among students. The Border Service provided anti-trafficking information at border crossings. The government continued to provide a national toll-free telephone line to an NGO-run labor migration hotline that provided legal advice and assistance to potential victims of trafficking. The government continued its plan to digitize passport records and birth records, with the goal of fully computerizing the national citizen registration system; providing citizens with greater personal identification documentation contributes to the prevention of human trafficking. The government did not undertake efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.