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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08TASHKENT987 2008-08-26 08:57:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tashkent
Cable title:  

UZBEKISTAN: HUMAN TRAFFICKING A HOT TOPIC IN

Tags:   PGOV PREL PHUM KCRM KWMN UZ 
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VZCZCXRO8596
RR RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHYG
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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260857Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TASHKENT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0209
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 4307
RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 0521
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 4924
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0780
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0547
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 0803
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 4508
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 2800
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0819
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 7561
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1458
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2762
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC 0360
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 0211
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TASHKENT 000987 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR G/TIP MEGAN HALL; SCA FOR JESSICA MAZZONE; INL FOR
ANDREW BUHLER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KCRM KWMN UZ
SUBJECT: UZBEKISTAN: HUMAN TRAFFICKING A HOT TOPIC IN
STATE-CONTROLLED PRESS

REF: A. TASHKENT 900

B. TASHKENT 787

C. TASHKENT 769

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED -- PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY



1. (SBU) Summary: The Government of Uzbekistan is off to a
fast start in implementing its new anti-trafficking national
action plan as five of 12 provinces plus Tashkent City have
already formed and convened mandated local inter-agency
committees to discuss prevention and protection measures.
The state-run Women's Committee of Uzbekistan also held a
roundtable on August 20 with high-level official
participation. State-controlled media reported each
provincial anti-TIP meeting, the workshop, and several new
cases in separate press articles. A key anti-trafficking NGO
is delighted by the pace of change on the issue but worries
the Government of Uzbekistan may get ahead of itself. The
Ministry of Foreign Affairs also delivered an unsolicited
response to the 2008 TIP Report on Uzbekistan, which we see
as a positive sign the Uzbeks are taking the issue seriously.
End summary.

Provincial-level Committees Form Quickly


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





2. (U) Per ref A, pursuant to the new comprehensive anti-TIP
law, Uzbekistan adopted a national action plan which mandated
the creation of both national and provincial level
inter-agency committees to address TIP issues. Following
quickly on the heels of the first national inter-agency
meeting on July 24, state-controlled press published articles
confirming that five of the 12 provinces (plus Tashkent City)
have already formed and convened inter-agency committees.
Meetings in Tashkent City and Jizzakh were reported on August
5; similar articles on August 12 confirmed that committees
convened in Syrdaryo and Kashkadaryo Provinces; and on August
15 there was a story on the kickoff meeting in Surkhandaryo
Province. Key anti-trafficking NGO Istiqbolli Avlod
confirmed that the Samarqand committee has convened as well.


Women's Roundtable


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





3. (U) The state Women's Committee of Uzbekistan held a
roundtable on August 20 in Tashkent which was attended by
high-level government officials (with active leadership by
Deputy Prosecutor-General Alisher Sharafutdinov) and covered
in the press. Nodira Karimova, Director of the NGO
Istiqbolli Avlod, told poloff that despite numerous
trafficking-themed forums, conferences, and workshops held
this year, this one was notable in that it was organized by
the government without an international co-sponsor. She
added that it contributed to the rising awareness of the
problem in Uzbekistan and drove home the message that the
Government of Uzbekistan is actively trying to address the
issue. The main discussions focused on the provision of
"socio-legal and medical help" for victims.

New TIP Cases Reported


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





4. (U) Uzbek newspapers also reported several new cases of
human trafficking in recent weeks, continuing the trend of
increasing openness and coverage of trafficking in persons
cases (ref B). According to a July 24 article in Huquq, a
Russian citizen who promised a Ferghana woman a job as a
waitress in a Malaysian hotel was arrested while seeing the
would-be victim off at Tashkent Airport. The same
publication, produced by the Office of the General

TASHKENT 00000987 002 OF 003


Prosecutor, reported that a Tohir Ravshanov was charged with
human trafficking after allegedly promising work to three men
in Kazakhstan but instead sold them to a Kazakh citizen for
USD 400 each. The men "had to work for free" for a month
before managing to return home, where they alerted
authorities.



5. (U) The website of the state-run Uzbekistan National News
Agency (uza.uz) reported on August 5 that 10 criminal TIP
cases have been filed in Jizzakh Province since the beginning
of the year, adding that those who "committed such crimes
with the aim of making easy money have been strictly punished
for their deeds."



6. (U) The Ministry of Justice's publication, Inson va Qonun,
reported on August 5 that three members of an Uzbek criminal
group were arrested on March 26 after "adding a psychotropic
substance" to the soft drinks of five Uzbek women and selling
them for USD 250 in Kazakhstan, where they were forced to
work as prostitutes. The investigation is still ongoing.

Too Much of a Good Thing?


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





7. (SBU) Karimova told poloff that she and fellow
anti-trafficking activists are delighted by the pace of
progress in Uzbekistan, and they could not have imagined the
government would move so quickly and energetically to
implement the new law. Yet Karimova (please protect) also
expressed concern that the government may be getting ahead of
itself, and that there may be too many big changes too
quickly without sufficient organizational capacity to
properly implement them. She said there is a need to make
sure the significance of all the major developments of the
past few months -- the new law, adoption of the UN Protocol
(ref C), the national action plan, inter-agency committees,
and results of several workshops -- filters down to local
level officials. Some local officials were still unaware of
what the law even said, Karimova reported, which prompted her
to produce reference booklets for local officials as part of
an ongoing INL-funded project. (Note: This project has had
a major impact and we support her idea to provide more
in-depth training to law enforcement officials throughout the
country. End note.) She also mentioned that high-level
policymakers may believe they have done their part and they
may not pay attention to TIP long enough to fine-tune the
laws as shortcomings are identified.



8. (SBU) Karimova is also unsure about the future of shelters
according to the new Uzbek law, which specifies that they
should be supported with public funds. She said the only
examples of publicly operated shelters that she is aware of
are in Belarus and Moldova (with plans in Azerbaijan as
well), which she believes are not successful models.
Karimova added (please protect) that Uzbekistan, which has a
bare-bones social service system in the best of situations,
"is not ready" to administer shelters; therefore, she hopes
the government will not rush to put an ineffective structure
in place.

Uzbek Response to TIP Report


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





9. (U) On August 7 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a
diplomatic note to the Embassy "to state the Government of
Uzbekistan's position with respect to recommendations" in the
2008 TIP Report. The note reiterated Uzbekistan's efforts to
ratify ILO Conventions 138 and 182, adding that child labor
"is not mandatory...but is an additional support in family
farms." Concerning the need to improve data collection, the
MFA note reminded that "until recently the country did not

TASHKENT 00000987 003 OF 003


have separate laws on criminal aspects of TIP." Changes are
underway, it assured, including more strict punishments once
the criminal code is revised. The note also described plans
for greater assistance to victims and more public awareness
campaigns. (Note: We will forward the full text of the
translated note to G/TIP. End note.)

Comment:


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





10. (U) The Government of Uzbekistan has decided that
trafficking in persons is a hot issue, and the abundance of
press articles on recent arrests and new anti-TIP activities
are playing a positive role. The Uzbeks made a surprisingly
fast start out of the gate since the release of the 2008 TIP
Report, and the unsolicited response from the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs demonstrates Uzbekistan's determination to
solidify its hold on Tier 2 on next year's edition.

BUTCHER