26 October 2021,   22:18
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Georgia is still in the first place in the fight against trafficking - US State Department

The US Department of State published “2021 Trafficking in Persons Report”, in which also talks about Georgia.

“The Government of Georgia fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period, considering the impact of the

COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Georgia remained on Tier 1. These efforts included convicting more traffickers and providing comprehensive victim assistance, including robust pandemic mitigation efforts at government-run shelters. The government created guidelines for mobile victim identification units (mobile units) on identifying child victims and adopted the 2021-2022 national action plan (NAP). The government established the Labor Inspection Service (LPS) with a special unit for forced labor; and, the process of obtaining official victim status through the Permanent Group, a five-member board of NGO and international organization representatives, improved in comparison to 2019. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it investigated and prosecuted fewer suspects and identified fewer victims. Labor inspectors continued to lack the staff, resources, and training to fulfill labor oversight responsibilities. The government did not establish a work permit system for migrant workers, nor did it license and monitor recruitment agencies. Police conducted some ad hoc raids on commercial sex establishments without clear strategy or victim identifications. The government did not adequately publicize provide adequate public assessments or information on its efforts and at times lacked transparency.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS:

Vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers under Articles 143-1 and 143-2 of the criminal code. • Increase efforts to identify victims proactively, particularly individuals in commercial sex, child laborers and/or homeless children, and Georgian and foreign victims in vulnerable labor sectors. • Increase resources to plan intelligence and evidence-led law enforcement operations with victim-centered approaches. • Encourage victims’ participation in investigations and prosecutions through victim-centered court procedures, including remote testimony or funding for travel and other expenses for victims to attend court hearings. • Implement procedures to improve the Permanent Group’s ability to identify victims consistently and accurately. • Improve law enforcement capacity to investigate complex cases, including advanced training on money laundering, organized crime, and digital evidence. • Further incorporate the Labor Inspectorate into anti-trafficking efforts and increase its capacity and training to identify victims. • Improve measures to order restitution for victims, including training prosecutors and judges, on asset seizure, and legal assistance. • Establish procedures to license and monitor recruitment agencies and create a work permit system for foreign migrant workers to prevent recruitment fees and other trafficking vulnerabilities. • Increase awareness-raising campaigns about the existence of trafficking, legal recourse, and available protection services to vulnerable groups. • Increase transparency of the inter-ministerial trafficking coordination council and regularly publish information on the government’s anti-trafficking efforts”, - reads the report.

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