The Turkish government did not fully comply with minimum standards in the prevention of trafficking, but made significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards, according to an annual report by the U.S. State Department.
Ankara remains on Tier 2 of compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) and has “demonstrated overall increasing efforts” compared to previous reports, the 2020 Trafficking In Persons report said.
The U.S. government report designates the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, which include prescribing punishment commensurate with that for grave crimes and punishment that would deter and adequately reflect the nature of human trafficking.
Ankara is “identifying more victims and interviewing more potential victims,” and has “conducted surveys and consultations to draft a new national action plan and organized robust trainings on various anti-trafficking issues,” the report said.
Moreover, it found that the Turkish government “allocated funds for financial assistance to victims, and the national commission and six provincial commissions implemented anti-trafficking efforts.”
In recent years, Turkey has increasingly become a country of transit to the European Union for those fleeing Asian countries due to conflict, poverty, and natural disasters.
The country hosts large communities of Afghan, Pakistani and Iraqi nationals, and also others from African nations who have ended up in the country with hopes of reaching Europe.
About 270,000 irregular migrants – those without proper documentation – were held in Turkey between Jan. 1 and Sept. 17 of 2019, according to the country’s Migration Management Directorate.
While the migration directorate has improved its ability to accurately identify victims and refer them to assistance, the report said, Turkish judiciary lacked experience and resources to prosecute complex cases, with cases often being dropped, acquitted, or reclassified to lesser offenses due to a lack of evidence.
Furthermore, Ankara provided “limited specialized assistance, including victim assistance programs and opportunities to encourage victims to cooperate in investigations,” the report said.
The report also pointed out that the Turkish government, in some cases, penalised victims for unlawful acts they were compelled to commit by traffickers.
Turkey’s trafficking victims are primarily from Central and South Asia, Eastern Europe, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Morocco, and Syria, the report said.