Countering Human Trafficking
Since 2000, the need to counter human trafficking has formed one of the primary focuses of international cooperation. In this process, an important landmark was reached by the international community with the adoption of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (New York, November 15, 2000). Uzbekistan acceded to the protocol by enacting the necessary national law on July 8, 2008.
Public policy and the State law of the Republic of Uzbekistan are underpinned by the protection of human rights and interests. Wide-ranging efforts are being carried out to put these legal safeguards into effect.
As stated in Article 13 of the Constitution, “Democracy in the Republic of Uzbekistan is based on universal human principles pursuant to which the human being and human life, freedom, honour, dignity and other inalienable rights constitute the highest value.”
Particular attention is given to the protection of human rights and to efforts to counter transnational crime, which undermines the development of society and the State. Human trafficking is one such crime and, in Uzbekistan, particular attention is given to efforts to prevent these crimes, to counter their perpetration and, in particular, to raise legal awareness among the country’s citizens. A wide range of measures are used to heighten awareness among the public of this issue and to prevent young people from falling victim to such iniquities.
The decision adopted by President Karimov on July 8, 2008 on measures to step up the campaign against human trafficking constitutes a powerful driving force behind efforts to combat this crime and to extend the reach of preventive measures. Pursuant to the decision, a national plan of measures was duly ratified for the period 2008-2010, designed to accelerate the campaign against human trafficking.
In Uzbekistan, the human being, and human life, freedom, honour and dignity, along with other inalienable rights, are deemed to be among the highest of all values. Pursuant to Article 26 of the Constitution, no one may be subject to torture, violence, or any other cruel or degrading treatment. These and other constitutionally guaranteed human rights are fully consistent with international legal tenets; in particular, those enshrined in Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, pursuant to which no one may be held in slavery or servitude, and slavery and the slave trade are prohibited in all forms.
Determined steps are being taken in Uzbekistan to put these legal safeguards into effect. In particular, efforts to prevent human trafficking have been vigorously increased. Work continues on the identification of people who have fallen prey to this crime and on rendering them the necessary assistance. Cooperation is under way with the law-enforcement agencies and with voluntary associations, which are carrying out awareness-raising work among the population, by holding workshops, training courses, roundtables, and other such measures to make the general public fully cognizant of the consequences of human trafficking.
In order to render assistance to the victims of human trafficking and to ensure their protection, the country’s law provides for the creation of specialized facilities, primarily designed to ensure the social rehabilitation of the victims of human trafficking with a view to returning them to normal life. This social rehabilitation incorporates legal, psychological, and medical support, assistance in finding work, and the provision of temporary shelter to the victims.
Uzbekistan is actively pursuing efforts to combat human trafficking, in line with the relevant policy enunciated by the country’s Government, as established below:
In December, 2003, Uzbekistan has acceded to the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others; this was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1949;
In 2003, the Oliy Majlis ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted by the General Assembly in 2000;
By presidential decision No. 911 of July 8, 2008, on measures to step up the campaign against human trafficking, an interdepartmental commission was created in Uzbekistan on the countering of human trafficking and a range of measures adopted to establish specialized facilities for the protection and assistance of victims of human trafficking;
President Karimov ratified the National Plan of Action to counter human trafficking, a strategic, nationwide plan for the period 2008-2010, which includes 19 separate measures involving the relevant authorities;
In 2008, Uzbekistan adopted an act ratifying the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000);
In 2008, Uzbekistan adopted an act on the accession of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (2000); and
In 2008, pursuant to the adoption of the act on measures to counter human trafficking, amendments and additions were made to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan, as an active member of the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking, whose membership includes 21 countries, is determined to continue contributing to endeavors to combat human trafficking, to make thoroughgoing efforts to prevent trafficking through its national law and the enforcement of that law, and in every way to promote international cooperation in this field.