Kazakhstan to put more effort into fight against human trafficking

Senior news correspondent
As the number of sexual and labor exploitation victims is much higher than the number of opened criminal cases

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan is going to intensify its fight against human trafficking, according to Interior Minister Marat Akhmetzhanov. During his speech at the Astana Legal Forum 2022, he said that the problem was neglected for years.

The minister has acknowledged that the official statistics do not fully reflect facts on the ground. «For years there was no agency or person who was focused on this problem solely,» he noted.

According to international and nongovernmental organizations, the number of sexual and labor exploitation victims is much higher than the number of opened criminal cases in Kazakhstan.

Akhmetzhanov also said that the interior ministry has never tried to analyze what causes such crimes. Moreover, the law enforcement agencies in Kazakhstan have little grasp of those who suffered from human trafficking. The delicacy associated with such crimes often makes the situation even worse, he said. 

«This work is not systematic. There is no law on the topic. Even law enforcement officials do not possess complete legal knowledge in this field, not to mention the victims of human trafficking themselves. There is no authorized agency responsible for the fight against the problem and lack of competence,» he said.

More than 100 pretrial human trafficking investigations are launched every year in Kazakhstan. For instance, there were 103 such cases in 2021 and 79 cases so far this year.

Law enforcement agencies are searching for routes of illegal trafficking of Kazakhstanis to Bahrain, South Korea and other countries.

«In August we stopped the activity of a criminal network in Shymkent. Eleven individuals were involved in human trafficking, sexual abuse, maintaining of brothels, which is illegal in Kazakhstan, and child sexual abuse,» said Kanat Nurmagambetov, head of the department of organized crime control under the interior ministry. 

In 23 cases perpetrators were found guilty and 18 individuals including minors have been recognized as victims.

Now, the interior ministry is readjusting its work. The agency is going to rethink the way it is cooperating with public institutions and other state agencies to fight human trafficking.  

In addition, the ministry is planning to develop a new draft law on the counter against the trafficking of human beings. This is a direct order by the country’s president. The draft law is going to introduce such specific terms as «victim of human trafficking», «potential victim of human trafficking» and «assailable position.»

In June, the country reported 50 crimes in the field of trafficking human beings. Most of them were linked to illegal brothels.

Those who run such illegal businesses even include public servants. In the Kostanay region, local police detained unidentified executives of the regional administration. They have been accused of human trafficking.

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