The Georgian government “fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” according to the recent U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report published on June 25.
The report says the Georgian government “continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts”, including in increasing overall prosecution and victim protection efforts. Accordingly, Georgia retains its highest, Tier 1 ranking – meaning that although a country might have human trafficking problem, its government is making efforts to address them.
According to the report, in 2019 the Georgian government “prosecuted more suspects, identified more victims, and provided more comprehensive victim assistance,” as well as “increased the number of mobile identification groups from four to six and continued proactive identification efforts.”
However, the report says that although the government meets the minimum standards, it “required foreign victims to remain in-country through the end of the trial, likely hindering victim cooperation, particularly from foreign victims wanting to repatriate, due to slow court proceedings.”
Moreover, the government “did not provide adequate public assessments or information on its efforts and at times lacked transparency.” In addition, according to the report, obtaining official victim status through the Permanent Group, a five-member board of nongovernmental and international organization representatives, “was increasingly difficult.”
While the government expanded the mandate of the Labor Inspectorate, including conducting unscheduled inspections, the Labor Inspectorate did not have the staff, resources, and training to conduct labor oversight responsibilities fully,” the report also reads.
It then notes that over the past five years, “human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Georgia, and traffickers exploit victims from Georgia abroad.”
In particular, traffickers exploit women and girls from Georgia in sex trafficking within the country, as well as in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates; while Georgia is also “a transit country” for women from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan exploited in Turkey.
Moreover, Georgian men and women “are exploited in forced labor” within Georgia and in Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Cyprus, and Iraq. Georgian, Romani, and Kurdish children “are subjected to forced begging and coerced into criminality” in Georgia.
Stressing that no information was available about the presence of human trafficking in Georgia’s Russia-occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, the reports recommends both the government and NGOs to consider internally displaced persons from these occupied territories “particularly vulnerable to trafficking with some observers reporting anecdotal evidence of cases of forced labor.”