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US Department of State: Corruption continues to be systemic problem in KR

Corruption continued to be a systemic problem in Kyrgyzstan. This is stated in the published annual report on human trafficking in persons of the US Department of State.

NGOs and international organizations reported law enforcement officials accepted bribes to drop cases and sometimes warned suspects prior to raids. Traffickers were reportedly also able to avoid punishment by offering victims payment to drop cases. The UN special rapporteur on the sale of children, child sex trafficking, and child pornography documented allegations of law enforcement officials' complicity in human trafficking in a 2013 report; police officers allegedly threatened, extorted, and raped child sex trafficking victims. However, the government has never investigated the allegations from this report, nor did it report the investigation, prosecution, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.

The government demonstrated increasing efforts during the reporting period by beginning to draft a new national action plan for 2017–2020 and passing amendments to bring the anti-trafficking article in its criminal code up to international standards.

The government approved criteria for victim identification, including measures to prevent unfair criminalization of victims, and created an inter-ministerial body to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government largely relied on NGOs and international organizations to train law enforcement personnel, who continued to lack training on victim identification. It did not address alleged complicity in trafficking and traffickingrelated offenses, despite credible reports of serious and endemic corruption that contributes to trafficking and official complicity in detaining and exploiting trafficking victims.

The report contains recommendations to Kyrgyzstan:

Vigorously investigate and prosecute government officials allegedly complicit in trafficking or who engage in abuse and exploitation of trafficking victims, and convict and punish those found guilty; investigate and prosecute suspected trafficking crimes, respecting due process, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, ensuring the majority of those convicted serve time in prison; enact legislation consistent with international law to ensure prosecuting the prostitution of minors does not require proof of force, fraud, or coercion; increase efforts to identify trafficking victims proactively among vulnerable groups, particularly persons in prostitution, and refer victims to protection services; approve and implement guidelines on victim identification and train officials on their use; implement child-sensitive investigation and prosecution procedures for cases in which children may be human trafficking victims; increase trafficking-specific training for law enforcement, including through contributing to efforts by international organizations to train police, prosecutors, and judges; ensure identified trafficking victims are exempt from punishment for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; and continue to contribute to NGOs providing assistance to victims.

The government initiated eight trafficking investigations under article 124 in 2016, including five sex trafficking cases and two child forced labor cases; In the five prosecuted criminal cases, involving nine victims of trafficking, the government convicted 10 offenders under article 124 in 2016, compared with four offenders convicted in two cases in 2015.

The government maintained efforts to identify and assist trafficking victims and worked to improve its identification and referral mechanisms. Based on recommendations from a 2015 Parliamentary Monitoring Report, authorities partnered with civil society and foreign partners to develop a national referral mechanism and standard operating procedures for assisting trafficking victims. The government drafted amendments to the anti-trafficking law to implement these mechanisms; however, the updates were not finalized or implemented by the close of the reporting period.

International organizations and NGOs reported assisting 86 victims in 2016, 68 of whom were subjected to forced labor, 11 to sex trafficking, and seven to both labor and sex trafficking; one of the victims was a child and 47 victims were male.

The police’s increased interaction with international and local trafficking experts has reportedly led to officers' increased sensitivity toward children found in brothels. However, the continued lack of training and formal written procedures for the identification and protection of potential sex trafficking victims increased victims' vulnerability to arrest and penalization during brothel raids.

The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking. In May 2016, the government created the Coordination Council on Migration which coordinates government efforts on migration issues, including combating trafficking in persons. The council includes representatives from the Office of the President, relevant government ministries, international organizations, and NGOs.

The government also continued to provide a national toll-free telephone line and office space to an NGO-run hotline that provided legal advice and assistance on working abroad; the hotline received 2,979 calls in 2016, which resulted in the identification of three victims.

As reported over the past five years, the Kyrgyz Republic 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.

Adult male labor migrants working abroad are reportedly at the highest risk of trafficking. Kyrgyz men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor in Russia and Kazakhstan, and to a lesser extent in Turkey and other European countries, as well as within the Kyrgyz Republic, specifically in the agricultural, construction, and textile industries and in domestic service and forced childcare. Kyrgyz children also are subjected to forced labor in cotton, the selling and distribution of drugs within the country, and hauling cargo both in the Kyrgyz Republic and neighboring countries. Women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking abroad, reportedly in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, Russia, Kazakhstan, South Korea, and within the country.

«International organizations and NGOs reported some Kyrgyz individuals who join extremist fighters in Syria are forced to remain against their will and recruiters may deceive others, including minors, promising jobs in Turkey, before extremist groups force them to fight, work, or suffer sexual servitude in Syria," the report says.