Cablegate: Turkey: 2004 Anti Trafficking in Persons Report
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 ANKARA 001233
DEPARTMENT FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, IWI, EUR/PGI
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: 2004 ANTI TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT
REF: SECSTATE 7869
1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
2. (U) Post's responses are keyed to questions in reftel.
Embassy point of contact is David McFarland, who replaces
Phil Kaplan following submission of this report. Kaplan
(rank: FSO-03) spent approximately 100 hours in preparation
of this report. McFarland (rank: FSO-05) spent approximately
10 hours in preparation of this report. The Political
Counselor (rank: FS-01) spent roughly 10 hours in preparation
of this report.
A. (U) Turkey is a destination and transit country for human
trafficking. No territory within the country is outside of
GOT control. There are no estimates on the numbers of TIP
victims. Most reports of human trafficking involve foreign
women engaged in illegal prostitution. According to a study
released in November 2003 by the International Organization
for Migration (IOM), the volume of trafficking in Turkey "can
only be guessed at." The Turkish MFA recently added a
special TIP reporting section to its official government
website, (http://www.mfa.gov.tr). The MFA reports that
police actions against 40 "entertainment enterprises" have
been initiated, with investigations ongoing. Post is not
aware of any reports involving the trafficking of children.
B. (U) According to the IOM study, women are trafficked to
Turkey mostly from Romania, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine,
Moldova, and Azerbaijan. Turkey is also a transit country
for the trafficking of women from Central Asia, the Middle
East, Africa, and the former Yugoslavia to Europe.
C. (U) Trafficking, along with illegal migration in general,
emerged as a problem in Turkey within the last 10-15 years.
IOM reported that, until recently, Turkey had long been a
country of emigration, with liberal border control policies
aimed at attracting tourists and enhancing foreign currency
reserves. The collapse of the Soviet Union, among other
factors, turned Turkey into a magnet for irregular migrants.
The sudden change caught the GOT unprepared. The GOT is now
adjusting its policies. While doing so, it has focused
primarily on the need to control illegal border crossings,
treating trafficking in persons (TIP) as a secondary concern,
the IOM study concluded.
D. (SBU) As noted para A, IOM in November 2003 released a
study on TIP in Turkey, the first of its kind. The study
reached no conclusions on the extent of the problem. Regina
Boucault, chief of the IOM Mission in Turkey, has told us her
experience indicates the dimensions of the TIP problem in
Turkey are relatively small, i.e. Turkey is not in the same
category as the major destination and transit countries.
E. (SBU) According to Boucault, virtually all TIP victims
enter Turkey willingly. Most come with the intention of
working illegally as prostitutes, though some may be lured
under false pretenses. They become TIP victims when they
find themselves being kept under abusive conditions. Pimps
often hold their documents, and sometimes threaten and beat
them. Some TIP victims are held under slave-like conditions.
In some instances, victims have escaped their captors and
approached IOM for assistance.
F. (U) Turkey is not a country of origin.
G. (U) Combating TIP became a GOT priority in 2002. An
inter-agency task force, chaired by the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, comprises officials from the Ministry of Interior,
Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Labor
and Social Security, Ministry of Health, and the Prime
Ministry. The task force first met in October 2002 and has
met five times to date. As a result of the task force's
efforts, the GOT adopted a TIP National Action Plan in March
H. (U) In July 2003, police in Erzurum arrested 11 people on
trafficking charges, including three police officers.
Judicial proceedings in the case are ongoing, though two of
the police officers were reportedly sentenced to 6-month jail
terms while the remaining officer was acquitted. Prosecutors
opened a related case against 13 additional police officers
for alleged involvement in the crime. There are credible
reports of law enforcement officials receiving bribes either
to smuggle aliens or turn a blind eye to illegal
I. (SBU) Although the GOT has ample law enforcement resources
to fight trafficking, it says it does not have adequate
funding for shelters or rehabilitation for trafficking
victims. MFA has unsuccessfully sought funding from the
Finance Ministry for shelters and other services outlined in
a protocol signed by the GOT and the Human Resources
Development Foundation (HRDF), an Istanbul-based NGO. HRDF
has also been unsuccessful to date in its efforts to secure
private-sector support. As a result of the MFA-HRDF
protocol, provincial governors throughout Turkey were tasked
to identify property that may be converted to serve as
regional shelters. In the absence of funding, no further
action has been reported.
J. (U) As noted para G, the GOT has a task force on TIP,
which monitors the various facets of its anti-TIP efforts.
MFA releases monthly reports on the GOT's anti-TIP efforts.
K. (U) Prostitution is legal and regulated. The minimum age
L. (U) According to the women's advocacy group Flying Broom,
among traditional, rural communities in Turkey's southeast,
about 4 percent of brides are under 18. There is a
traditional practice in the region whereby the groom pays
money to the bride's family, though this practice has become
far less common in recent years. There have been cases where
brides have been brought from Syria to southeast Turkey, but
this is not common, according to Flying Broom.
A. (U) While government officials acknowledge that
trafficking occurs, they argue that its scope is limited.
They state that Turkey has a problem of foreign prostitution
and illegal migration, contending that Turkey's liberal visa
regime for Balkan, Black Sea Littoral, and Caucasian states
-- usually an automatic visa at the border for a nominal fee
-- obviates the need for human smuggling gangs. However, in
response to international pressure, the GOT over the past two
years has taken what IOM has described as "remarkable steps"
to combat TIP both in Turkey and in the region.
B. (U) Government agencies involved in anti-trafficking
efforts include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry
of the Interior, which oversees the police, Jandarma
(paramilitary rural police), and border guards; the Ministry
of Labor; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Health;
and the Directorate on the Status and Problems of Women
attached to the Ministry of Labor.
C. (U) There have not been any nationwide anti-trafficking
campaigns aimed at the general public. Ad hoc, individual
governors and police officials are reported to have engaged
in public awareness campaigns against trafficking at the
local level utilizing local NGOs. In December 2003, the
Directorate General on the Status and Problems of Women held
its second annual panel in Ankara on human trafficking. Law
enforcement officials from around the country, journalists,
and NGO representatives attended the event. In July 2003 the
Tourism Ministry distributed a guide to the tourism industry
notifying companies that the government is obligated by
international agreement to take measures against foreigners
visiting the country for sex tourism. In August 2003 FM and
Deputy PM Gul issued a press statement on TIP, distributed
widely to media outlets.
D. (U) As noted para I in Overview section, the GOT signed an
anti-TIP protocol in September 2003 with HRDF. The protocol
included a number of anti-TIP initiatives, including:
providing shelters for TIP victims; establishing a center to
provide medical and legal assistance to TIP victims; and
raising public awareness of TIP. Neither the GOT nor HRDF
has secured funding for the protocol, but HRDF did fulfill
its obligation to establish a regional network with NGOs in
neighboring countries to coordinate on trafficking issues.
E. (U) The GOT (which is currently operating under an IMF
program that sets targets related to its budget) claims
financial difficulties in funding prevention programs.
However, the GOT is pursuing alternate funding opportunities,
most notably NGO support, and expanding current training
programs to GOT officials on TIP.
F. (SBU) As noted above, the GOT signed an anti-TIP protocol
in September 2003 with HRDF, an Istanbul-based NGO.
According to IOM, which recommended HRDF for the protocol,
there are few NGOs in Turkey with TIP expertise. The GOT
cooperates with IOM, UNHCR and the EU on TIP-related training
for judicial and law enforcement officials. However, the GOT
and IOM have not established a voluntary repatriation
program, in part because the GOT is reluctant to provide IOM
with the airport access necessary to escort returnees until
they board the airplane.
G. (SBU) Turkey borders Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran,
Iraq, Syria, and Bulgaria, as well as EU member Greece.
Istanbul has a large international airport and there are also
international ports of entry by land, sea, and air through
several other cities, including Ankara, Trabzon, Erzurum,
Adana, and Sarp, on the Georgian border. Although the
government expends considerable law enforcement resource to
monitor its borders, which are vast and remote, it is not
always successful, and the smuggling of goods and humans
occurs. Contacts report, however, that the vast majority of
trafficking victims and other foreign women who engage in
prostitution enter Turkey legally, either by getting work
permits at Turkish Embassies abroad or, more commonly, by
obtaining one month visas at the border. Since the collapse
of the Soviet Union, Turkey has adopted a liberal visa regime
with countries formerly in the Soviet Empire to encourage
trade and tourism. Women who are deported for prostitution
come back repeatedly, according to police. They alter their
names slightly or receive a passport in an entirely different
name with the help, according to Turkish police, of corrupt
officials in source countries or organized criminals. Poor
centralization in Turkish border control or corruption may
also aid reentry. Only the passports of women testing
positive for sexually transmitted diseases are scanned into a
centralized computer system.
H. (U) See para G in Overview section.
I. (U) Turkey plays an active role in the international
community by regularly attending conferences hosted by SECI,
USDOS, and IOM. GOT further works with the United Nations,
OSCE (Stability Pact and ODIHR), Interpol, and the European
Union to combat trafficking. Turkey has been especially
active in the Trafficking Task Force within the framework of
the Stability Pact/ODIHR. In November 2003 the GOT submitted
a draft protocol proposing bilateral anti-TIP cooperation
with Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria,
Romania, Russia, and Belarus. To date, according to Security
Director and Head of the Department of Foreigners Border and
Immigration Affairs Mehmet Terzioglu, only Belarus has
J. (U) See para G in Overview section. The National Action
Plan has been submitted to all relevant government agencies,
and is available upon request. Embassy submitted a copy to
G/TIP shortly after the plan was adopted in March 2003.
K. (U) The MFA's Deputy Director General for Illegal
Migration spearheads the GOT's anti-trafficking initiatives
as head of the coordinating body for all agencies involved.
Investigation and Prosecution
A. (U) On August 3, 2002, the Turkish Parliament passed
anti-trafficking legislation, Article 201(b) of the Turkish
Penal Code. The text of the law is as follows:
"Those who provide, kidnap, take or transfer from one place
to another and house other individuals with the intention of
making them work or serve by force, subject them to slavery
or similar treatment, threaten, pressure, use force or
coercion to persuade them to give up their bodily organs, use
undue influence, secure their consent by deception or by
using the desperation of such individuals shall be sentenced
to five to ten years of heavy imprisonment and a heavy fine
of not less than one billion liras.
"If the actions that constitute a crime attempted with the
intentions laid out in the first paragraph exist, the victim
is assumed not to have given his/her consent.
"If the children below the age of eighteen are provided,
kidnapped, taken or transferred from one place to another or
housed with the intentions specified in paragraph one, even
when no intermediary actions relation to the crime are
committed, the penalties foreseen in paragraph one shall
still be applied to the perpetrator.
"If the crimes listed in the paragraphs above are committed
in an organized manner, the penalties foreseen for the
perpetrators shall be doubled."
B. (U) The penalty for traffickers is five to ten years of
heavy imprisonment and a fine of not less than one billion
Turkish Liras. These penalties may be doubled if the crimes
were committed in an organized manner.
C. (U) According to the Turkish Penal Code Article 416, the
penalty for rape and/or forced sexual assault is at least
seven years. Attorney contacts note, however, that rape is
difficult to prove and suspects may receive lighter sentences
for various reasons related to the incident. There are also
articles in the Penal Code that: allow rapists to avoid
punishment if they marry their victims; set different levels
of punishment depending on whether the victim is married, or
a virgin; and define rape as a crime against society rather
than a crime against the individual.
D. (U) Prosecutors have opened 14 cases against alleged
traffickers under the anti-TIP legislation adopted in August
2002, charging a total of 46 suspects. Courts have ruled for
acquittal in three cases; the remaining cases are ongoing.
E. (SBU) Contacts repeatedly state that trafficking, where it
exists, is in the hands of small operators. Groups may be as
small as four or five people who are connected, most often,
through kinship or friendship. Increasingly, former
prostitutes who have gained Turkish citizenship are working
as procurers and pimps and bring women on tourist visas.
Traffickers posing as tourist agencies or firms in source
countries bring women to Turkey with official work permits.
Hotel owners are also believed to coerce women who work as
F. (U) Official sources tell us Turkey actively investigates
cases of trafficking using special investigation techniques.
Police officials in Trabzon stated they used primarily
undercover operations against traffickers. The Ministry of
Interior recently instructed governorships to issue
humanitarian visas and temporary residence permits for
victims to begin rehabilitation. Our legal contacts hope
these visas and residence permits will allow victims to serve
as witnesses in investigations and trials of traffickers.
Mitigated punishment or immunity for cooperating suspects may
be granted unofficially; under Turkish law, there is no
policy for plea-bargaining or other confessional treatment
for victims of trafficking.
G. (U) The GOT provides formal training programs on
trafficking for police and judicial officials. The Ministry
of Justice has given several training seminars to
approximately 600 judges and prosecutors on the issue of
combating TIP between October 2002 and February 2003. The
Ministry of Interior conducted a trafficking training program
for 75 police officials. As these training programs were
internally developed and administered, Post is unaware of the
content discussed or length of these seminars. The GOT also
provides special training to the TNP's Foreigner Section
officials in areas such as visa fraud, passport forgery, and
illegal entries. During 2003, UNHCR included an IOM TIP
module in its Jandarma training program, and IOM has provided
TIP training to prosecutors and Justice Ministry officials.
H. (U) Turkey maintains security cooperation agreements,
which deal with trafficking, with Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine,
Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia. Other
than from Belarus, the GOT says it has not received a
response to a diplomatic note it sent in July 2003 to eight
source countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Russia,
Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Belarus) seeking closer
cooperation on combating TIP. In November 2003 the GOT
prepared a draft protocol on bilateral anti-TIP cooperation
and submitted it for consideration to the governments of the
eight source countries. Turkey cooperates with the OSCE, EU,
Interpol, Europol, and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.
GOT officials have attended numerous international
conferences on the issue of trafficking, organized by
governmental and NGO bodies.
I. (U) We have no information regarding the extradition of
persons charged with trafficking from other countries or
whether or not the government allows the extradition of its
own nationals, if any, charged with such offenses.
J. (SBU) See para H in Overview section for information on
police accused of involvement in trafficking. We have no
direct evidence of official involvement in or tolerance of
trafficking at higher levels. Contacts state there is some
tolerance of foreign prostitution as long as it is kept
within certain limits. Authorities may turn a blind eye in
the belief prostitution brings an economic benefit. Places
where foreign women congregate may provide a cover for
K. (U) We do not have any evidence of GOT involvement in
L. (U) Turkey has adopted the following conventions:
-- ILO Convention 182 (Ratified early 2001).
-- ILO Convention 29 and 105 on Forced or Compulsory Labor
(ILO Convention 29 went into effect on January 27, 1998 and
ILO Convention 105 on December 21, 1960).
-- Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child
Pornography (Ratified May 9, 2002).
-- The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish
Trafficking-in-Persons, especially Women and Children,
Supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational
Organized Crime (Signed December 2000; Ratified January 31,
2003 and put into force February 4, 2003).
Protection and Assistance
A. (U) The GOT has established a Humanitarian Visa and
Temporary Residence Permit to allow TIP victims to remain in
the country for rehabilitation and treatment. The MFA
indicates authorities have issued such visas to 16 TIP
victims; several others were offered the visas, but decided
to return to their home countries instead. According to
Security Director Mehmet Terzioglu, in an effort to comply
with Stability Pact provisions, these special residency
permits have been extended from 1 month to 5 months. In
August 2003, the GOT adopted a measure allowing TIP victims
to receive free medical treatment. If a foreign woman is
detained for prostitution, she is tested for sexually
transmitted diseases (STD) before deportation. According to
the police chief in Trabzon, if a woman tests positive for a
STD and requests assistance, she would receive medical help.
B. (U) The GOT in September 2003 signed an anti-TIP protocol
with the Istanbul-based HRDF (see para D in the Prevention
section) that includes shelters, but has not funded the
initiative. No other Turkish NGOs provide such services.
HRDF has worked with IOM to assist in the return of foreign
women who have been detained for prostitution or escaped from
C. (SBU) There is no established, consistent screening and
referral process in place. GOT officials claim police
regularly screen illegal migrants to determine whether they
might be trafficking victims; this appears to be true in some
cases, but it is not clear how often this happens in practice.
D. (U) It is longstanding police practice to deport illegal
migrants, and foreign women detained for illegal
prostitution. Subjects of most such cases have generally
been deported within two weeks of detention. The concept of
screening illegal migrants to determine whether they may be
TIP victims is new, and implementation has been slow.
E. (U) We have no evidence indicating that victims are
encouraged to file civil lawsuits or seek legal action
against traffickers. The introduction of humanitarian visas
and temporary residency permits (see para A) may help enable
victims to seek legal action.
F. (U) To our knowledge, the government does not provide
protection to victims and witnesses.
G. (U) See para G in Investigation and Prosecution section.
Turkey is not a source country.
H. (U) Turkey is not a source country.
I. (U) See para D in Prevention section on HRDF. No other
Turkish NGOs work with trafficking victims to our knowledge.