U.S Report : Trafficking victims in Turkey and Belgium: Al birini vur diğerine !



Forced prostitution, potential trafficking victims, child sex tourism and vulnerability to explotation by criminal groups !

 Turkish women are subjected to forced prostitution within the country. According to local experts, sex trafficking victims are forced into prostitution in illegal brothels or are “leased” by clients and kept in private residences or hotels. A recent report claimed that children involved in the drug trade, prostitution, and pick pocketing in Turkey are vulnerable to exploitation by criminal groups.

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Turkey is a source, destination, and transit country for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Trafficking victims found in Turkey originate from Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Armenia, Kazakhstan Morocco, Syria and Mongolia. Turkish women are subjected to forced prostitution within the country. According to local experts, sex trafficking victims are forced into prostitution in illegal brothels or are “leased” by clients and kept in private residences or hotels. A recent report claimed that children involved in the drug trade, prostitution, and pick pocketing in Turkey are vulnerable to exploitation by criminal groups.

The Government of Turkey does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but it is making significant efforts to do so. The government stepped up its identification of trafficking victims and increased funding for NGO shelters to remedy a previous funding shortfall and ensure their operation during the year. The government, however, did not secure a sustainable budget for NGOs providing critical care and assistance. It sustained efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders in 2011, though courts continued to acquit a significant number of suspected trafficking offenders.


Recommendations for Turkey:

Continue to develop comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation to explicitly criminalize forced labor and forced prostitution without the precondition of movement, consistent with international standards and establish a comprehensive victim-centered framework for assistance, including institutionalized funding and partnerships with NGOs; develop a mechanism to identify potential victims of labor and sex trafficking in partnership with NGOs and other stakeholders, such as labor inspectors; increase incentives for victims to voluntarily cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, including by appointing a victim witness advocate to ensure a continuum of care; allow potential victims some time to recover from their trafficking experiences and to make informed decisions before they are required to give official statements; establish a case-based analysis of trafficking cases to help desegregate possible smuggling statistics from Article 80; assess why a significant number of prosecuted trafficking cases result in acquittals; establish a victim assistance fund from fines levied against convicted traffickers for this purpose; and develop specialized care for children who are subjected to trafficking, and men who are subjected to forced labor.


Prosecution

The Government of Turkey sustained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Article 80 of Turkey’s penal code prohibits both sex trafficking and forced labor, and prescribes penalties of eight to 12 years’ imprisonment – which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. This statute, however, places emphasis on the movement, rather than the exploitation, of victims and does not explicitly prohibit trafficking occurring within Turkey’s borders; this is not consistent with international standards. The government initiated a draft comprehensive trafficking law to remedy these deficiencies in 2011. The government reported that it prosecuted 409 trafficking suspects under Article 80 during the period of January through September 2011, of whom 232 were acquitted. This rate of acquittals represents a significant increase compared to the previous year when courts acquitted 150 of 430 suspects prosecuted. Because of Article 80’s emphasis on the movement of persons, the government’s prosecution data likely includes smuggling statistics. An NGO observer noted an overall low number of traffickers convicted and sentenced for trafficking offenses committed in Turkey. The government reported the conviction of 16 trafficking offenders under Article 80; these offenders received sentences of five to eight years’ imprisonment. Courts reportedly convicted another 16 trafficking suspects under a “mediation in prostitution” statute, Article 227, which carries much lighter penalties; these 16 offenders received a range of sentences from one month to four years’ imprisonment. Turkish law allows for the suspension of prison sentences of two years or less under certain conditions.

Notably, in September 2011, the government cooperated with the Government of Armenia to successfully extradite an alleged Armenian trafficker from Turkey. During the year, the police reported that three of their nine anti-trafficking operations uncovered forced labor crimes and victims, primarily in the domestic servitude, begging, construction, and entertainment sectors. The police also reported the arrest of a Turkish government official for his suspected involvement in sex trafficking as a result of these operations. Complicity in trafficking by government employees continued to be a problem; the government did not take any additional action stemming from a 2009 prosecution involving three police officers or report any follow-up to its 2008 investigation of 25 security officials for trafficking complicity.


Protection

The Government of Turkey demonstrated progress in identifying and protecting sex trafficking victims in 2011. According to the Ministry of Interior (MOI), the government identified 82 trafficking victims in 2011, an increase from the 58 victims it identified in 2010. Notably, local police in Antalya included an NGO in victim identification interviews in 2011, which resulted in the identification of 29 trafficking victims. According to regional experts, Turkish authorities do not ensure that NGOs are engaged early in the identification process and as a consequence officials inadvertently deported some foreign trafficking victims. Thus the government continued to arrest and deport individuals without adequate efforts to identify trafficking indicators among men, women, and children.

Three anti-trafficking NGOs provided shelter to a total of 39 victims, including 2 children, during the reporting period. The government increased funding to these shelters in 2011 to help keep them operational during the year; local authorities and the MFA provided a combined $105,000 to the Istanbul shelter during the year. The MFA also provided supplemental funding for the shelters in Ankara and Antalya in 2011, representing an improvement from the previous year when funding shortages caused one shelter’s closure. The government continued, however, to lack a consistent funding mechanism to ensure sustainability and support for NGOs providing comprehensive care in these shelters. While the government encouraged victims to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions, most victims chose to return to their country of origin and declined to participate in prosecutions of traffickers. This was most often due to a lack of available legal aid to support victims during court proceedings, victims’ perceived fear of authorities, the threat of retribution from traffickers, and slowness of court procedures. IOM assisted in the return of 35 trafficking victims who declined assistance from Turkish officials. The government continued to hold trafficking victims in immigration detention centers while IOM prepared their return procedures. The government offered foreign victims legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they would face retribution or hardship. Foreign victims may apply for humanitarian visas and remain in Turkey for up to six months with permission to work, with the option to extend for an additional six months. The government granted such a permit to one trafficking victim in 2011.


Prevention

The Turkish government demonstrated proactive steps to reform its anti-trafficking prevention efforts during the year. Its inter-agency working group on trafficking, established in August 2011, met regularly throughout the year to identify areas of weakness. The government continued to provide the equivalent of $150,000 in annual funding for the operation of its national IOM-run anti-trafficking (“157”) hotline. IOM continued to report that the highest percentage of calls came from clients of women in prostitution. During the year, the government distributed an identification form for police to use during anti-trafficking operations; however local experts reported the need for enhanced training to ensure more consistent implementation. The Turkish government provided anti-trafficking training to its military personnel prior to their deployment abroad for international peacekeeping missions. The government did not demonstrate efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor within Turkey. Prostitution by women who are Turkish citizens is legal under restricted conditions in Turkey; the government reported efforts to screen both brothels and women involved in street prostitution to identify potential trafficking victims. The government did not take any discernible steps to prevent child sex tourism by Turkish nationals traveling abroad.

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BELGIUM

Belgium is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Victims originate in Eastern Europe, Africa, East Asia, as well as Brazil and India. Prominent source countries for victims exploited in Belgium include Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Nigeria, China, and Turkey. Male victims are subjected to forced labor in restaurants, bars, sweatshops, horticulture sites, fruit farms, construction sites, cleaning businesses, and retail shops. The main source countries for labor trafficking include China, India, Brazil, and Bulgaria. Belgian underage girls are recruited by local pimps and then subjected to sex trafficking within the country, and foreign children, including ethnic Roma, are subjected to sex trafficking. Forced begging within the Roma community in Belgium also occurs. Foreign workers continued to be subjected to forced domestic service, some involving members of the international diplomatic community assigned to Belgium.

The Government of Belgium fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to pursue a multi-disciplinary, case-based approach to trafficking during the reporting period. The government aggressively investigated alleged forced labor involving the diplomatic community, despite immunity challenges posed by these specific offenders. The government continued to issue residency permits for trafficking victims and provide them with comprehensive care. Despite reports of a significant number of children in prostitution in the country, the government failed to identify many child trafficking victims.


Recommendations for Belgium:

Demonstrate vigorous prosecution of forced labor and forced prostitution offenders; pursue criminal sentences of imprisonment for convicted trafficking offenders; continue efforts to engage more front-line responders in victim identification to increase detection of trafficking victims in Belgium; continue to examine ways to balance human rights of trafficking victims and their need for assistance with law enforcement priorities; tighten the statutory regime to more clearly track with international definitions of trafficking, with coercion as a core component; and ensure more intensive outreach to unaccompanied minors who are potential victims of trafficking in Belgium.


Prosecution

The government continued to investigate and vigorously prosecute trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Belgium prohibits all forms of trafficking through a 2005 amendment to its 1995 Act Containing Measures to Repress Trafficking in Persons. As amended, the law’s maximum prescribed penalty for all forms of trafficking – 30 years’ imprisonment – is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government’s 2010 de facto rapporteur’s report noted that some anti-trafficking reformers in Belgium acknowledge that the current definition of trafficking under Belgium law “leads to ideological dilution of the concept of trafficking in human beings,” and requested that the law “take greater account of the coercion component” involved in human trafficking crimes. The failure of an employer to meet prevailing wage, hours, and working conditions can constitute “exploitation” under Belgium’s anti-trafficking law; these cases are included as trafficking offenses in the government’s prosecution data. The government reported it prosecuted 358 suspected human trafficking offenders in 2011; it prosecuted 170 offenders for sex trafficking offenses, 165 for labor trafficking or economic exploitation offenses, 14 for coerced criminality, and eight suspects in cases of forced begging. The government provided preliminary conviction and sentencing data for 2010, the most recent year for which data was available and for which approximately 80 percent of the data for 2010 had been analyzed. The 2010 data was the first time the government reported trafficking convictions as separate from smuggling cases. The preliminary 2010 data demonstrate that the government secured convictions for at least 64 trafficking offenders in 2010, involving 107 instances of aggravated circumstances. The most common aggravating circumstance (34 instances) was the abuse of a particularly vulnerable situation, followed by the repetitiveness of the trafficking (20 cases) and the use of fraudulent maneuvers in the conduct of trafficking (19 cases). In 16 cases, the aggravating circumstance was that the victim was a child. In 2009, aggregate trafficking and smuggling convictions totaled 132. There were no cases involving government officers or civil servants in 2010.

The 60 prison sentences for convicted traffickers in 2010 ranged from less than one year to five years’ imprisonment; nine were sentenced to less than one year, 30 were sentenced to between one and three years, 18 were sentenced to three to five years and three were sentenced to five years or more. Thirty-two of the 60 sentenced traffickers received suspended sentences; in most cases these were partially, not entirely suspended sentences. During the reporting period, Belgium filed a request for extradition for two trafficking offenders. Both were represented by their legal advisors and were sentenced to seven and five years of prison and fines. However, the country in question had not ratified the UN Treaty on Organized Crime and the 2000 UN TIP Protocol and the bilateral extradition treaty did not include trafficking, so the extradition was denied.

In September 2011, a labor court in Liege convicted four members of a Romanian family for the enslavement of a Romanian child in domestic service. The offenders were sentenced to three to five and a half years’ imprisonment; the court suspended half of all four sentences. In June 2011, the government initiated a criminal investigation into a Sierra Leonean diplomat posted in Belgium for subjecting his three domestic workers to forced labor and torture while posted in the country; the government suspended the recruitment of new staff members at the Sierra Leonean mission. Even though a trafficking perpetrator enjoying diplomatic immunity could not be subject to criminal prosecution, the government reported that launching a criminal investigation serves several purposes; first, it will render the victims eligible for government protection; second, the victims can still file a civil court claim for compensation for damages; finally, the Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can use the investigation as a basis for action to prevent future cases. The government reported that it prosecuted some trafficking offenders who subjected women to forced prostitution in the legalized commercial sex industry in the country. During the year, the government continued to train police officers on how to identify labor trafficking. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of any Belgian government employees for trafficking-related complicity in 2011.


Protection

The government sustained its efforts to protect victims of trafficking in 2011. During the year, the government issued or renewed 614 residence permits to trafficking victims; some of these permits issued were for an indefinite length of time. According to a 2011 government report, 2010 marked an increase in the number of trafficking victims who obtained victim status in Belgium. The government continued to fully fund three NGOs that provided shelter and comprehensive assistance to trafficking victims. These shelters assisted 150 new victims in 2011. The majority were victims of labor trafficking or economic exploitation, the second largest group were victims of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation. Child victims are not allowed in these adult centers and are redirected to centers dedicated to children – not only victims of trafficking, but all unaccompanied minors. The government used systematic procedures to proactively identify and refer victims for care based on a 2008 interagency directive on coordination and assistance to trafficking victims; the government conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of this directive in 2011. Key stakeholders from the Ministry of Justice, the police, social institutions, shelters, the Foreigners Office and Office of Social Inspection participated in the evaluation, which noted good cooperation between actors, but added that it could be improved. The evaluation’s main recommendation was to expand awareness of the directive through training and information sessions. The evaluation praised the focus on the trafficking of diplomats’ domestic personnel, but recommended that the procedures be accelerated because diplomats are often gone by the time an investigation starts. The evaluation noted the use of a victim translation assistance questionnaire from UNODC and a pilot project in Liege to sensitize the medical sector about trafficking and encourage referral of potential trafficking victims as best practices in victim identification. During the year, the government identified and provided assistance to at least three Sierra Leonean victims subjected to forced labor by diplomatic staff. According to the government, front-line responders other than police, including social workers and hospital staff, increasingly referred victims to specialized NGO trafficking shelters during the reporting period. In order to qualify for victim status, victims must fulfill three conditions: they must have broken off all contact with their traffickers; they must agree to counseling at a specialized trafficking shelter; and they must agree to cooperate with authorities in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. A 2009 ECPAT report noted that these conditions for victim assistance are too high for child victims to meet. Children who were victims of trafficking reportedly were granted three months in which to decide whether to testify against their traffickers. According to the government, if children do not qualify for victim status, they may still qualify for protection under the government’s rules for unaccompanied minors. According to the government, victims are granted immunity from fines, detention, or deportation only if they assist in the prosecution of their trafficker. The government acknowledged that the level of protection afforded to victims was dependent on the legal status of the victim’s right to be in Belgium. Victims’ whose cases do not result in a conviction or who do not pursue criminal charges against their traffickers remained vulnerable to deportation or criminalization. Victim-witnesses were granted access to the Belgian labor market during legal proceedings. Victims may obtain permanent residency in Belgium after the sentencing of their traffickers, and victims may be eligible for residence permits for indefinite lengths of time without the conviction of their traffickers, provided that authorities first establish a formal charge of trafficking. However, in some cases, if a trafficking offender is not convicted, a victim may have to return to his or her country of origin.


Prevention

The Government of Belgium continued its efforts to prevent trafficking in 2011. The government’s de facto rapporteur’s office continued to publish an annual self-critical report on the government’s anti-trafficking activities. The government continued to co-sponsor the nationwide campaign, “Stop Child Prostitution” in 2011 and continued to distribute a multilingual flyer on visas for potential trafficking victims from common source countries of trafficking victims in Belgium. The government continued its proactive outreach to domestic employees to inform them of their rights and provide them with avenues to report abuse. Among other measures, the government required domestic workers to appear in person once a year to renew their identification cards. Furthermore, the government has expelled foreign diplomats found to be engaged in trafficking or exploitation and, despite pressure from foreign diplomatic interlocutors, remained committed to this course of action. The government’s inter-departmental coordination unit on trafficking, chaired by the Justice Minister, met twice during the year; this coordination unit created an awareness leaflet to assist hospital staff in identifying trafficking victims during the reporting period. During the reporting period, Belgian authorities developed a campaign tailored to identify and assist Brazilian nationals vulnerable to labor trafficking in the country. Belgian authorities identified child sex tourism as a serious problem among Belgian nationals, but reported no prosecutions of such activity. The government provided specific anti-trafficking training to Belgian troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.

Full report.

Letter from Secretary Clinton
Letter from Ambassador Luis CdeBaca
The Promise of Freedom
Definitions and Methodology
Topics of Special Interest
Global Law Enforcement Data
Victims’ Stories
2012 TIP Report Heroes
Tier Placements
Country Narratives: Countries A Through F
Country Narratives: Countries G Through M
Country Narratives: Countries N Through Z
Special Case

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