Georgia in U.S. Human Trafficking Report 2022
The Georgian Government “continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts” for the elimination of trafficking, says the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2022 report published on July 19. It remains a tier 1 country in terms of combatting trafficking, a process for which the Georgian Government “fully meets the minimum standards,” according to the document.
The government’s efforts despite being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic included providing comprehensive victim assistance and robust pandemic mitigation efforts at government-run shelters, the report noted.
The document says authorities increased the number of labor inspectors and further developed guidelines for them to screen instances of forced labor.
Per TIP, the government also created a new mobile group and crisis center in the Adjara region aimed at identifying victims among vulnerable children. The report further noted the amendments made to the Criminal Code of Georgia to allow the Ministry of Internal Affairs to assign victim-witness coordinators to trafficking victims.
The State Department report however identified several shortcomings including the fact that the government convicted fewer traffickers and identified the lowest number of victims since 2016.
While police conducted some “ad hoc raids” on commercial sex establishments TIP underscored it was without a clear strategy or victim identification. Authorities also lacked the knowledge to investigate and collect evidence in complex cases.
The report criticized law enforcement requirements for victims to remain in the country until the end of the trial, which they say, likely “hindered” victim cooperation from foreign victims wanting to be repatriated. Against this background, it highlighted that judges have never awarded restitution in criminal cases.
The document says that Georgia acts as a transit country for women from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan exploited in Turkey. Within the country, it was reported that women from Central Asia are exploited in the Georgian cities of Tbilisi and Batumi in saunas, brothels, bars, strip clubs, casinos, and hotels.
Regarding the Russian-occupied regions, the State Department noted that although there was no information available about Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, anecdotal evidence points to migrants being subjected to forced labor, including North Koreans who “may have been forced to work by the North Korean government.”
See the full report here.
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