OSCE Releases Report on Human Trafficking in Georgia

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) released a report on May 6 delivering a thorough assessment of the issue of trafficking in human beings in Georgia.

The report was compiled by OSCE Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Valiant Richey drawing on his visit to Georgia on June 17-19, 2019.

The documents reflects key findings and recommendations by the Special Representative, identifying potential sources of trafficking, and elaborating on remedies from the OSCE best practice.

“Georgia is a country of origin, transit, and destination for various forms of human trafficking,” stated the Special Representative on the authority of data and information gathered during his country visit.

Women, Children, Migrant Labor – Most Vulnerable Groups

“The tourism and hospitality sector is among the high-risk sectors for trafficking in human beings and forced labor,” reads the report. The OSCE official said “the commercial sex industry” – closely related to the tourism industry – carried “perhaps the highest risk of human trafficking.”

The OSCE official drew attention to the increasing number of entertainment facilities in the Black Sea Adjara region of Georgia, where, reportedly, women trafficked from Azerbaijan and Central Asia (especially Uzbekistan) were exploited for sexual services.

“These women are lured to Georgia with the false promise of jobs in the hospitality sector and often end up being trafficked for sexual exploitation in saunas, night bars, motels, and private houses around the tourist areas in Adjara region of Georgia and along the border with Turkey,” wrote the Special Representative.

The Special Representative added that Georgian women are allegedly trafficked to Turkey and the United Arab Emirates for sexual exploitation.

As stated in the report, children are reportedly trafficked for various exploitative purposes in Georgia. The OSCE official stressed that “in addition to being exploited by their parents to beg in the streets,” children were also “at high risk” of trafficking for sexual exploitation, including for prostitution.

Richey noted that, “notwithstanding the efforts of Georgian authorities,” child trafficking and exploitation still persisted as a problem requiring “further urgent action” aimed at preventing cross-border trafficking between Georgia and Azerbaijan, as well as carrying out countrywide research to measure the scale of the issue.

According to the report, Georgian men are trafficked for labor exploitation to Turkey, UAE, Iraq and Cyprus. Meanwhile, Poland is emerging as a new destination country for trafficking of Georgian men for forced labor.

The OSCE Official further noted, that “the widespread operation” of private recruitment and employment agencies, involved  in “both facilitating employment of Georgians abroad and bringing migrant labor to Georgia,” constituted a risk factor.

Investigation and Prosecution of Trafficking Cases

The OSCE official praised the examples of Georgian law enforcement authorities’ collaboration with international partner states.

Meanwhile, Richey emphasized the need for “closer and stronger” cooperation between respective agencies to map and detect online marketplaces for sexual exploitation, and to identify online platforms used for facilitating recruitment of persons for labor exploitation.

The Special Representative raised concerns over the “low” identification rate of trafficking victims, which, he said, reflected “a lack of outreach activities to identify trafficked persons, including online.”

The Special Representative mentioned that investigation into cases of human trafficking were often impeded by “a heavy reliance on victims to come forward and self-identify.” He strongly encouraged exploration of strategies and tactics “to enhance the collection of corroborating evidence beyond the victim’s testimony.”

Richey “urged” police units in charge of anti-trafficking activities to bolster their efforts, conducting “proactive investigations into all sectors prone to exploitation.”

He further appealed to law enforcement authorities to investigate and prosecute all individuals who “were using the services of trafficked victims,” and “contributing to demand for sexual exploitation of vulnerable persons.”

The Special Representative recommended expanding the use of financial investigations in parallel with criminal inquiries as “an important tool to disrupt the business model of perpetrators,” as well as “to enhance use of corroborating evidence in prosecutions.”

Legislative Framework

The Special Representative positively assessed Georgia’s “robust” legal framework to prevent and combat human trafficking.

The Special Representative commended the country for being a party to “major” international conventions aimed at eliminating all forms of trafficking in human beings.

The OSCE official further welcomed amendments to the Criminal Code of Georgia, which expanded the list of “exploitative purposes” and “means” connected with trafficking, noting that such a “broad” definition created an “enabling” environment to tackle various forms of the crime in the country.

However, he appealed to Georgian authorities to address the trafficking of foreign women into prostitution, as well as trafficking in minors for the purpose of begging by implementing relevant provisions of the Criminal Code and Anti-Trafficking Law.

Government’s Response and Shortcomings

According to the report, the Georgian government established an Interagency Coordination Council in 2006, which is chaired by the Minister of Justice, and answers for harmonizing anti-trafficking efforts.

While endorsing the work of the said body, the Special Representative highlighted the need to set up independent working groups to closely examine issues related to sexual and labor exploitation, and exploitation of foreign citizens in particular.

“Additionally, ad-hoc working groups should be considered to elaborate on the role of technology in trafficking in human beings and prevention of trafficking in supply chains and public procurement,” the OSCE point man added.

He further emphasized the significance of independent monitoring and evaluation of anti-trafficking measures, noting that “a lack of human resources” in government-established institutions often impeded a “regular and robust” monitoring and “comprehensive” assessment of the situation, limiting it to “an analysis of the reports provided by various agencies tasked to implement the actions outlined under the National Plan.”

The OSCE official called attention to the fact that “the absence of comprehensive data” made it difficult to gauge the “exact” scope and magnitude of trafficking in human beings in Georgia.

Richey said a number of stakeholders during his country visit raised this issue, adding that “a thorough determination of the trends and scope of trafficking in Georgia” would be “challenging” in the absence of an all-encompassing evaluation and research.


The Special Representative recommended Georgia to sign and ratify following legislation in a bid to double down on combating human trafficking:

  • the ILO Convention 189 concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers;
  • the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labor Convention of 1930;
  • the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

The Special Representative called on the Government to establish an office of the independent National Rapporteur and to foster research studies into “various patterns of human trafficking, including the risks of trafficking among women in the sex trade, migrant workers involved in the construction, hospitality and agricultural sectors and trafficking of persons for committing crimes.”

The OSCE official called on the Ministry of Labor, Health, and Social Affairs, and other relevant state agencies, to ensure “an adequate monitoring mandate and enforce stricter monitoring over operations of private recruitment agencies to deter any abuse and curb fraudulent recruitment.”

He reiterated OSCE recommendation for Georgia to develop policies taking into account whether businesses and public sector agencies appropriately address the risks of trafficking in their respective supply chains.

Also read:

Georgia in U.S. Human Trafficking Report

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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