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08TASHKENT157 2008-02-06 05:17:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tashkent
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1. (SBU) Summary: On February 1 a full-page article
highlighting trafficking-in-persons appeared in the Pravda
Vostoka, one of three major newspapers in Uzbekistan. The
prominent placement and lengthy detail of the article in a
widely circulated, state-controlled publication is noteworthy
and a visible warning to unsuspecting Uzbeks about the risks
of trafficking-in-persons. Significantly, the article also
finishes with detailed information about the conviction and
sentencing of specific offenders, which may be a response to
consistent pressure from post as well as a Department visitor
to demonstrate progress on prosecution. Uzbekistan does not
yet have comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, but
there are existing laws it can and does use to punish
offenders, and a relevant draft law has now been submitted to
the parliament for consideration. End summary.

Full-Page Article


2. (SBU) On February 1, a full page article highlighting a
trafficking-in-persons racket ran in the Pravda Vostoka
(Truth of the East), one of three major newspapers in
Uzbekistan. The widely circulated, five-time weekly paper
is, like all media in Uzbekistan, state-controlled. LES
Political Specialist noted the article appeared as a 2,500
word feature on page 3, a prominent space usually reserved
for important current events the Government of Uzbekistan
wants to highlight. The article ran at a time when post is
compiling information, including official requests for
meetings, for use in the annual Trafficking-in-Persons

Prevention: Warning to the Unsuspecting


3. (SBU) The story leads off with information about an arrest
at the Tashkent Airport, where a young woman bound for the
Emirates discovered she was expected to be a sex worker
rather than a waitress. It described how the accused
traffickers received USD 300 for each young woman they sent
to the United Arab Emirates from a Dubai-based Uzbek woman
named Iroda Kayumova. The article notes the trafficking ring
had a fixer who was able to quickly obtain necessary travel
documents for outbound women, and it noted that he could only
have delivered these materials "with the right contacts at
the right agencies." This is a frank admission that
corruption contributes to trafficking since Uzbek citizens
need a passport and an exit clearance -- in addition to a
visa -- to travel to the Emirates. In this case, the article
cited the trafficker's arrogance as her undoing, and she
reportedly told an outbound victim that "for girls like you,
jobs are always available, and you will work at the brothels
until you pay back our expenses." Upon hearing this, the
would-be victim resisted and a scuffle ensued, which prompted
police and security forces to intervene and conduct an



4. (SBU) Significantly, the article concluded with an
analysis of what happened to the accused upon conclusion of a
criminal case. The document fixer was sentenced to five
years and three months imprisonment; a recidivist involved in
recruiting girls in the Samarqand Region received a six-year
sentence; another recruiter also received five years and

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three months behind bars, although as a first-time offender
she was given amnesty (common practice in Uzbekistan); and
Iroda Kayumova was declared a wanted person. While the
mention of a trafficking bust in the Uzbek press is not
unheard of, this is the first article we are aware of that
provided detailed information about the outcome of the
criminal case.

5. (SBU) While Uzbekistan has not yet passed comprehensive
anti-trafficking-in-persons legislation, this case clearly
demonstrates that there are existing statutes in Uzbekistan
that can be applied to trafficking-in-persons offenses. In
this case, the accused were found guilty under Chapter Six,
Article 135 of the Uzbek Criminal Code, which addresses "the
recruitment of people for exploitation." The statute
specifically notes that such offenses involve fraud and can
include "sexual or other kinds of exploitation." The statute
specifies that if the fraud involves removing persons from
the territory of Uzbekistan, the punishment is five - eight
years imprisonment. This seems consistent with the sentences
meted out in this published story. Also, the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs informed post that a draft anti-trafficking
law was recently submitted to the lower house of the
Parliament (Oliy Majlis), and is expected to work its way
through the Senate and become law during the first half of
the year.



6. (SBU) The Government of Uzbekistan was angry about last
year's Tier 3 assessment, but we have nonetheless
consistently heard from key nongovernmental organization
contacts since then that awareness and sensitivity among law
enforcement officials is steadily increasing. A visitor from
G/TIP last fall -- the first in several years -- met with the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and emphasized the Department's
interest in monitoring convictions; this prominent article
may reflect an attempt by the Government of Uzbekistan to
highlight its efforts on this front. Post and G/TIP have
also repeatedly stressed the importance of comprehensive
anti-trafficking legislation to international observers, and
the submission of such a law to the parliament, albeit after
many promises, is a positive step. While the Government of
Uzbekistan maintains that such legislation is being done out
of concern for its people and not because the U.S. told it to
do so, it is an area in which our mutual interests converge.