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Trafficking from former USSR and Eastern Europe. Louise Shelley, Professor, School of International Service and Director, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, American University, 2-24-06. TRAFFICKING: DEFINITION.

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Trafficking from former USSR and Eastern Europe

Louise Shelley, Professor, School of International Service and Director, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, American University, 2-24-06

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  • The trafficking of human beings is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficking involves a process of using illicit means such as threat, use of force, or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability.

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  • Exploitation includes forcing people into prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. For children exploitation may include also, illicit international adoption, trafficking for early marriage, recruitment as child soldiers, for begging or for sports (such as child camel jockeys or football players), or for recruitment for religious cults.

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Diversity of Phenomenon

  • Countries Span geographically from borders of European Union, across Asia to the Far East

  • Involves sexual trafficking for sexual exploitation, labor, adoption, trafficking of children for begging

  • Families that are sources of trafficking victims range from nuclear family to large extended family

  • Range from European societies to traditional societies of Central Asia

  • Different religious backgrounds and traditions that affect destinations

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Common Features

  • Socialist Past and Tradition of Social Welfare Benefits for women and children and guaranteed employment

  • Lack for respect for human rights

  • Absence of rule of law

  • Centrality of organized crime groups—both large and small in this phenomenon

  • Extreme use of violence towards victims

  • Feminization of poverty

  • Inability of states to control separatist regions

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Distinctive Features of Traffickingfrom this Region

  • Victims of trafficking tend to be much more educated than from other regions of the world, often with high school education

  • Relatively new phenomenon since the collapse of socialism

  • Economic collapse of the region provided steady supply of individuals (male and female) to be trafficked

  • Labor migrants who fall into exploitation from Central Asia can be intellectual elite of country

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Distinctive Features of Traffickingfrom this Region cont.

  • Enormous geographic spread of the victimization—to Western Europe, US, Asia and even Latin America

  • Business side of this phenomenon is resource exploitation model rather than long term business, profits do not fuel development but dissipated or subject to conspicuous consumption

  • Crime groups more involved with human trafficking than with drug trade in initial stages of their rise

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Features in Common with Trafficking Elsewhere

  • Corruption is central element of ability to move victims

  • Recruitment occurs through acquaintances and sometimes friends and family members

  • Trafficking is highest in regions with conflicts and in post-conflict regions—former Yugoslavia, Transdniester, Tajikistan

  • Significant involvement of all forms of organized crime

  • Draws on economically vulnerable populations

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Economic Factors Precipitating Trafficking

  • Economic collapse of these societies after the end of socialism and regional conflicts

  • With advent of privatization, enormous disparities of wealth and income in societies which once had ideological commitment to equality

  • Absence of social safety net made citizens to seek any way to support families

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Economic Factors Precipitating Trafficking cont.

  • Loss of savings through corruption and lack of regulation of banking sector

  • Economic advisors to make economic system more efficient advised countries to drop social welfare support at factories without providing substitute

  • Failure of international advisors to acknowledge the central economic role of trafficking and labor migration

  • Enormous corruption of top leadership in former Soviet Union countries has deprived citizens of resources from the state

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Persistence of the Phenomenon

  • Trafficking continues despite accession of many countries to EU and improving economic situation in Russia and Ukraine

  • Russia and Ukraine are increasingly becoming host countries for labor trafficking from Central Asia and Asia and sexual trafficking from poorer countries

  • Crime groups are so entrenched in Baltics, former Yugoslavia and parts of Eastern Europe that trafficking persists despite the economic improvement and increased border controls

  • Lack of labor protections allows persistence of labor trafficking even if it is evident to public

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Demand for the Trafficked Individuals

  • Sexual demand in Western Europe, Middle East, US and Asia

  • Clients seeking more educated and younger women than are usually available

  • Cheap labor demand in economically developing former socialist countries—i.e. Russia, Poland, Ukraine

  • Children are trafficked to families wanting children

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Trafficking into the US

  • Sexual trafficking into many parts of the US—cases from this region have been in Northeast, Detroit, California, Alaska, Florida

  • Labor trafficking from Central Asia

  • Organized Crime involvement and small scale entrepreneurship

  • Little success in tracing profits of crime groups

  • Very few cases compared to the size of the phenomenon even after TIP legislation

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Trafficking into U.S. cont.

  • Involves corruption not only in socialist countries but American institutions, i.e. consular offices

  • Limited repatriation of victims or T-visas

  • Victims are often frightened because victim protection programs are not working as needed because of transnational nature of crime groups

  • Advertising of trafficking goes on through yellow pages and newspapers and more could be done through greater control of private sector