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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ASHGABAT295
2006-03-17 09:14:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Ashgabat
Cable title:  

GOTX HEARS NO EVIL/SEES NO EVIL ON TRAFFICKING

Tags:   ELAB  KCRM  PGOV  PHUM  PREF  PREL  KWMN  SMIG  TX 
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VZCZCXRO2364
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHAH #0295/01 0760914
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 170914Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7099
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 0194
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 0990
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASHGABAT 000295 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SCA FOR DAS GASTRIGHT, EUR FOR DAS BRYZA, SCA/CEN FOR PERRY

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2016
TAGS: ELAB KCRM PGOV PHUM PREF PREL KWMN SMIG TX
SUBJECT: GOTX HEARS NO EVIL/SEES NO EVIL ON TRAFFICKING

Classified By: Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson for reasons 1.4 (b) and (
d)

-------
SUMMARY
-------



1. (C) During her February 21-22 visit to Ashgabat, G/TIP
Officer Megan Hall met with representatives of the Human
Rights Committee of the Mejilis, Ministry of Internal Affairs
(MVD) and the State Service for the Registration of
Foreigners (SSRF) to learn about the GOTX's perspective on
TIP. None of Hall's interlocutors could offer any tangible
evidence of GOTX efforts to combat, prevent or sensitize
people to TIP. None of the GOTX officials were even aware
that there were several reported cases of TIP and that one
Turkmenistani was actually convicted by a court here. While
genuine ignorance about TIP prevents the GOTX from addressing
TIP, the main obstacle, as with anything else here, is fear
of admitting that societal problems exist in Turkmenistan.
The following is a summary of Hall's meetings with GOTX
interlocutors. End Summary.



--------------------------


MEJLIS DEPUTIES KNOW NO EVIL


--------------------------





2. (C) Hall opened up her meeting with Human Rights
Committee Chairperson Myrat Garryev, and committee members
Juma Jumayev and Yazdursun Gurbannazarova, by informing the
deputies about the USG's observations on TIP in Turkmenistan.
According to USG information, there are fewer than ten
reported Turkmenistani TIP victims who were trafficked inside
and outside of Turkmenistan. The USG also believes the
typical Turkmenistani victim to be an unemployed female used
for sexual and labor exploitation. However, the problem
could be much larger given the increasing numbers of
unemployed who are eager to travel abroad for work, and most
of these people lack any understanding of the rules and
regulations regarding work, travel, and their basic human
rights. Hall also explained that her trip was a fact finding
mission to gauge the extent of TIP in Turkmenistan, as well
as to hear the GOTX's point of view on the issue.



3. (C) Garryev agreed with Hall's assessment that the number
of known TIP victims was low, and noted that these figures
were not verified. Echoing the party line, Garryev disputed
claims that TIP victims were unemployed, since there is no
unemployment in Turkmenistan, "thanks to the Great Leader's
policies." Furthermore, Central Asian culture and traditions
act as a measure of protection, which as a result proves that
TIP is not a problem not just in Turkmenistan, but in Central
Asia as a whole.



4. (C) Conoff disagreed with Garryev's statement that TIP
was not a Central Asian problem. Recalling his experiences
as Consular Officer and the TIP reporting officer in Bishkek,
Conoff informed Garryev that TIP has been a growing problem

in Central Asia, specifically in Kyrgyzstan. Garryev
"clarified" his statement by saying that he meant to say
"Turkmen Muslim culture".



5. (C) Jumayev dismissed Hall's comments and repeatedly
demanded that Hall furnish "proof" that TIP was a global
problem since as far as he knew, no Turkmenistani had ever
been involved in TIP, no country had ever convicted anyone of
any trafficking offense (including Turkmenistan), and nobody
was doing anything to stop it. Even if it were true that
there have been Turkmenistani victims of TIP, there were
fewer then 10, so what was the big deal?



6. (C) Hall responded that IOM, one of the major
international organizations dealing with TIP, not only
confirmed the cases in Turkmenistan, but assisted the victims
upon their return home. In addition, there have been many
cases when traffickers have been convicted of trafficking
crimes, including in the United States and Turkmenistan
(Note: In September 2005 a woman in Turkmenabat was convicted
of trafficking related crimes marking the first reported
conviction of a trafficker in Turkmenistan. End Note.)



7. (C) Hall noted that while the number of reported victims
was small, it was definitely a big deal, especially to the
victims, who must now live with the memories of their
experiences, and grapple with the shame and embarrassment of
their past. As to the low number of reported cases, Hall
said that G/TIP's experience has shown that so long as
governments continued to ignore the problem, people are
reluctant to report cases. When governments start addressing

ASHGABAT 00000295 002 OF 003


the problem, the number of victims being reported will
increase. Hall added that it was the responsibility of all
governments to care for its citizens; the USG does, and
surely the GOTX would want to do the same for its citizens
(Note: Jumayev, clearly embarrassed after this exchange, kept
noticeably quiet for the rest of the meeting. End Note).
Garryev assured Hall that the GOTX cared for its citizens'
well being, and said that anti-TIP legislation was currently
awaiting Mejilis approval, but he could not say when it would
be approved. When asked if he could provide the GOTX's
definition of TIP, Garryev declined, and appeared himself not
know how to define it.



--------------------------


MVD HEARS NO EVIL


--------------------------





8. (C) According MVD International Department Head
Muhammentur Humammetgulyev, the MVD is tasked to protect
Turkmenistan from crime while upholding principles of human
rights. Humammetgulyev said that thanks to the strong
sociopolitical and economic situation in Turkmenistan, crime
on a nationwide scale was very low. Humammetgulyev assured
Hall that TIP had never been an issue here and that nobody
had ever been convicted of any trafficking related crimes.
Conoff informed Humammetgulyev that this was not the case,
citing the September 2005 conviction. Humammetgulyev, along
with his other interlocutors, were visibly surprised and
busily began writing down the facts regarding the case.
Humammetgulyev said that the MVD cooperates with
international organizations to prevent TIP in Turkmenistan
(how he did not say), as well as with neighboring countries.
The MVD occasionally sends officers to attend international
conferences including anti-TIP components. He added that two
officers recently returned from an anti-TIP conference in
Pakistan (a trip funded by INL). He estimated that since
2005, 15-20 officers were sent to conferences abroad for
training, who then came back and shared their experiences
with around 50 officers. While the MVD did not offer formal
training on combating TIP, Humammetgulyev said that the MVD
would welcome more opportunities for training.



9. (C) When asked to describe the MVD's concrete steps to
combat TIP in Turkmenistan, Humammetgulyev said that the MVD
took "preventative measures," specifically raiding brothels
and areas where local prostitutes meet. They then interview
the prostitutes to learn more about how they became
prostitutes. Most often the prostitutes say that they were
deceived by their pimps into becoming prostitutes.



10. (C) Hall noted that such deceit is linked to TIP, and is
a strong indication that Turkmenistani women may be used as
prostitutes abroad. She also noted that based upon America's
experience, the more attention paid to combating TIP, the
more the actual extent of the problem became clear, and
therefore more possible to combat.



--------------------------


SSRF SEES NO EVIL


--------------------------





11. (C) According to State Service for the Registration of
Foreigners (SSRF) Deputy Head Yaylym Berdiyev, the SSRF
cooperates closely with foreign governments, including the
USG, to improve border security and keeps records of those
arriving, departing, and transiting through Turkmenistan.
(NOTE: The SSRF, established in 2004, is now the main agency
charged with all migration and citizenship issues in
Turkmenistan and has officers stationed at all border
crossings, Ashgabat International Airport, and within all
major cities. The USG, in cooperation with the SSRF, is
currently funding the construction of two border crossing
checkpoints for Turkmenistan. End Note.) He said that the
SSRF's work and responsibilities increased since the 2004
lifting of the exit visa requirement which allows
Turkmenistani citizens to freely travel outside of the
country (Note: While no exit visa exists, the GOTX still
maintains a black list of people, mostly those linked in some
way to regime opponents and prevents them from traveling.
End Note.) While aware that TIP was a regional concern, he
assured Hall that TIP was not a problem in Turkmenistan, and
that there were no known Turkmenistani TIP victims.



12. (C) After informing Berdiyev of the IOM-reported TIP
cases, Hall said that given the SSRF's responsibilities, it
would be in the ideal position to address TIP issues. Given
its presence at airports and borders, they can be the first
to detect trafficking trends and victims. Noting the growing
evidence that those involved in terrorism engage in

ASHGABAT 00000295 003 OF 003


trafficking in persons, narcotics and weapons, the SSRF,
given its responsibilities of preventing such problems from
crossing its borders, should actively be involved in
preventing TIP.



13. (C) Berdiyev explained that despite the SSRF's
responsibilities, the MVD, not SSRF, was responsible for TIP
issues, and did not provide any services/assistance to
trafficking victims, other than bureaucratically helping to
facilitate their return to Turkmenistan. He claimed that the
SSRF provided information about working and traveling to
Russia and Turkey to interested Turkmenistanis around the
country, and said that he would be very happy to provide
similar information about the United States. He added that
he and around 20 other SSRF officers traveled to the United
States on IV programs that covered law enforcement issues,
including combating TIP. Upon their return, the officers
shared their experiences with around 300 students at the SSRF
training academy. Berdiyev added that in 2005 a group of
Turkish officers came to Turkmenistan to train SSRF officers
on combating TIP. When asked what he thought the GOTX
definition of trafficking in person was, Berdiyev sheepishly
admitted that he did not know.



--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





14. (C) Hall's visit to Ashgabat did not lead to any
groundbreaking revelations about the GOTX's ability or
willingness to combat TIP, but confirmed the GOTX's utter
ignorance and lack of sensitivity of the subject. It also
showed that none of the agencies involved in combating TIP
had any idea what each other was doing, and that none of the
agencies could even define what TIP meant. Notably, nobody,
including the MVD, the agency tasked with heading the GOTX's
efforts, was aware that a Turkmenistani court had in fact
convicted someone of trafficking related crimes. Not
surprising was the GOTX's assurances that everything was well
here, constant reminders of their willingness to cooperate
with the USG on TIP, or the willingness to take free trips
abroad to attend conferences; the same responses to most of
our engagements on controversial issues. A lack of GOTX
willingness to recognize TIP as a problem stems from two
reasons, an honest lack of understanding of the issue, and
fear of exposing any social ill that would contradict the
image of Niyazov's utopia. So long as the GOTX continues to
refuse to admit that any and all social ills exist in
Turkmenistan, we will continue to lack a more definitive view
of TIP in Turkmenistan, as with such other issues as avian
flu, unemployment, health, narcotics abuse( END COMMENT.

JACOBSON