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Combating trafficking

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, July 5
Georgia has advanced in the US-drafted Trafficking in Persons Report, which said that Georgia now complies with the minimum standards of the Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA).

The United States (US) Department of State has released its annual Trafficking in Persons Report 2016 (TIP report), which saw Georgia significantly upgraded its level in combat against trafficking.

The TIP report said Georgia has managed to upgrade from Tier 2 to Tier 1, which means that unlike previous years the country is now in full line with the minimum TVPA standards.

The Report generally aims to monitor and combat trafficking in humans. It ranks governments based on US perceptions of their efforts to acknowledge and combat human trafficking.

The countries in the report are placed in three different tiers, but Tier 2 also has a 'Watchlist'.

Tier 1 countries' governments fully comply with the TVPA's minimum standards.

Tier 2 countries' governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with them.

Tier 2 Watchlist are countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards and a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing; or b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or c) The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.

Tier 3 countries are those that do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

Last year, Georgia was a Tier 2 country.

This year's report said “The Government of Georgia fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

“The government increased the anti-trafficking capacity of its law enforcement through funding an unprecedented number of training programmes for police, prosecutors, judges, and shelter operators. The government adopted a more victim-centered approach through the inclusion of victim witness coordinators from the initial stages of investigations through the end of court proceedings,” the report stressed.

The document emphasised that the Georgian Government continued to provide comprehensive care for all identified victims and increased services available to them, including child care for dependents of victims staying in two government-operated shelters.

Also, the Government established a labor inspectorate, hired 50 full-time labor inspectors, and provided them with comprehensive training on how to identify potential cases of trafficking.

“It is a huge achievement, and I want to thank our law-enforcers, civil servants and all the state bodies who worked towards this success,” Georgia’s Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani stated shortly after the report was released in the afternoon.

The report recommendations for Georgia included:

Increase efforts to identify trafficking victims;

Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute suspected traffickers and convict labor and sex traffickers;

Conduct a comprehensive study on children living and working on the street;

Create integrated, interagency strategies for reducing vulnerability and countering forced begging;

Train law enforcement officials on interview skills and long-term case development;

Encourage police and prosecutors to use money laundering investigations to develop evidence, and employ expert witnesses to explain victims’ behavior and experiences at trial; increase the use of plea-bargaining to motivate less serious offenders to testify and uncover larger criminal organizations, if detected, and;

Increase transparency of the inter-ministerial trafficking coordination council.