Cablegate: Turkey: Anti Trafficking-in-Persons (Tip) Report

Published: Wed 5 Mar 2003 08:20 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/05/2013
FOR 2003
1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
2. (U) As requested, Post's responses are keyed to questions
in ref (A). Embassy point of contact is Christina Boiler,
Political section (telephone: 90-312-455-5555; fax:
90-312-468-4775). Boiler (rank: junior officer) spent
approximately 150 hours in preparation of this report.
Another political officer (rank FS-03) spent 30 hours and the
Political Counselor (rank: FS-01) spent roughly 10 hours in
preparation of this report.
Embassy Comment
3. (SBU/NF) Embassy recommends lifting Turkey from Tier III
in the 2003 Trafficking-in-Persons (TIP) report. GOT
initiatives over the past 12 months have demonstrated
commitment to lasting steps in the fight against TIP.
Passage of an anti-TIP law in August 2002, creation of an
inter-agency task force, and efforts to begin victim
assistance measures highlight a few of the actions GOT has
taken to prevent TIP, punish offenders, and aid victims.
Turkey has signed and ratified all international protocols
against trafficking and is working with the EU, SECI, and the
OSCE to enhance cooperation in the region to combat TIP.
4. (SBU/NF) Based upon existing information and reporting
trips to affected regions, Post finds trafficking is not
significant in scope, although it reportedly does occur.
Turkey's liberal visa regime towards its former Soviet bloc
neighbors obviates the need for criminal gangs to provide
travel documents or facilitate entry. While illegal
prostitution by foreign women in Turkey is common, the
majority of our contacts--GOT officials, police, businessmen,
NGO and UN agency reps, and academics-- claim trafficked
women are a small minority of those involved in illegal
prostitution. We continue to probe but have seen no evidence
to substantiate private reports of transit from Middle
Eastern countries through Turkey to Greece or Italy.
5. (SBU/NF) Much of the information contained in this report
is anecdotal evidence obtained by multiple sources
(governmental and non-governmental) in multiple interviews;
when we were able to obtain statistical facts or firm
governmental data, we have included the sources with the
information. End note.
Begin text
A. (SBU/NF) Turkey appears to be a country of destination for
a small number of women; transit may occur. Reports from
local officials in the Black Sea region indicate some women
may be brought into Turkey through Trabzon's border and then
sent to Antalya or other parts of Turkey. No territory
within the country is outside of GOT control. There are no
reports of forced labor or trafficking of men or children.
There are no statistics- reliable or otherwise- to indicate
the scope of the problem. A 2002 IOM study of TIP focused
primarily upon the root causes and conditions of the problem
rather than the scope of the problem. Sources of information
include the following: newspaper articles and journalists;
Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of the Interior and the
Turkish National Police (TNP); the Ministry of Justice; the
Ministry of Labor's Directorate on the Status and Problems of
Women; academics; governors and subgovernors; the chief of
mission of the International Organization for Migration
(IOM); businessmen and hotel owners. These sources are of
varying reliability; some state officials indicated
reluctance to discuss the issue.
B. (SBU/NF) Most of the foreign women engaged in illegal
prostitution or who work in the sex industry originate from
the Black Sea Region (primarily Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine
but also including Romania, Azerbaijan, and Russia). "Mafia"
organizations from source countries are believed to
facilitate forced prostitution or trafficking. Their Turkish
counterparts are believed to include former foreign
prostitutes. Embassy contacts stress Turkish traffickers are
typically small, splintered groups, sometimes 2-3
individuals, not large gangs. These individuals are linked
usually through friendship or kinship ties rather than
business ties. Uncorroborated reports of trafficked victims
transiting through Turkey cite Israel, Italy, and Greece as
destination countries.
C. (SBU/NF) Anecdotal evidence indicates that the overall
numbers of foreign prostitutes in Turkey has dropped over the
past several years. Embassy contacts cite improved economic
conditions in the source countries and improved GOT
engagement on the issue as reasons for the decline. However,
reports have increased of former foreign prostitutes who have
gained Turkish citizenship acting as pimps or TIP organizers
to bring unwitting girls into Turkey.
D. (SBU/NF) A 2002 IOM trafficking study, as yet unpublished
at the time of this report, focused on the causes and
circumstances of trafficked victims into Turkey. While GOT
has not yet provided statistical data, general observations
by the researchers found trafficking to be only a small part
of illegal prostitution. Economic conditions of source
countries compelled women to come to Turkey in search of
work. While some of these women came initially as "suitcase
traders," many of them willingly chose to engage in illegal
prostitution. By some accounts, a woman could make as much
as 200 USD per night engaging in prostitution. Following the
passage of the anti-TIP legislation in August 2002, the GOT
Records Department has begun to keep statistics on cases
filed using this law; it is believed initial statistics will
be available in late spring/early summer 2003. Finally, a
GOT inter-agency task force is currently drafting a National
Action Plan and has tasked governors in 15 so-called high
risk provinces to identify and locate potential shelters and
to issue humanitarian visas and temporary residence permits
to TIP victims. Once implemented, these shelters and visa
statistics will prove an invaluable resource in determining
if Turkey is or is not a major trafficking destination.
E. (SBU/NF) The scope of trafficking in Turkey is not known.
Numerous interviews with governmental and non-governmental
sources allow us to piece together how women may fall prey to
the traffickers, but cannot provide a basis for an estimate
as to how pervasive the problem may be. Many women escaping
poverty in the former Eastern bloc come to Turkey knowing
that they will engage in prostitution. Others come in
response to misleading advertisements or enticements, for
example to work as waitresses, models, dancers, or "bar
girls" and are forced into prostitution by the groups who
enticed them to come to Turkey initially. While a few of
these women have obtained work permits through tourism or
labor agencies that turn out to be fronts for traffickers,
many women enter Turkey through a valid tourist visa.
Reports say that TIP victims' passports are usually
confiscated upon entry by traffickers. In cases where women
come on a tourist visa to engage in prostitution, they may go
into debt to trafficking groups to pay for passport fees,
travel money, and clothes. Officials tell us that women are
forced into submission by frequent beatings and threats;
often, trafficking gangs threaten violence to family members
in source countries should victims prove uncooperative or
testify against them. Officials state women rarely complain
against their captors because of potential ramifications at
home. TIP victims are closely chaperoned throughout the day
for meals and pre-arranged outings to shops or hairdressers.
On the other hand, large numbers of foreign women engaged in
illegal prostitution appear to enjoy a large amount of
freedom, registering for Turkish language classes, traveling,
and obtaining cell phones.
F. (U) Turkey is not a country of origin.
G. (SBU/NF) Combating TIP became a GOT priority in 2002. An
inter-agency task force, chaired by the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs Deputy Director General for Illegal Migration, is
comprised of officials from the Ministry of Interior
(Department of Foreigners, Borders and Asylum; Department of
Security; and Department of Organized Crime and Fraud),
Ministry of Justice (Department of International Relations,
Foreign Relations and Educational Affairs; Directorate of
Criminal Records), Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Labor and
Social Security (General Directorate of the Status and
Problems of Women; General Directorate of Child Protection
and Social Services), Ministry of Health (Department of
Treatment Services), Prime Ministry (Department of Human
Rights and Social Aid and Cooperation Fund).
H. (SBU/NF) Post has not been able to obtain direct evidence
regarding the direct involvement of government or other law
enforcement officials in trafficking. However, there are
credible reports of law enforcement officials receiving
kickbacks either to smuggle aliens or to turn a blind eye to
illegal foreign prostitution. There are also indirect
reports of government officials turned traffickers because of
the potential earnings.
I. (SBU/NF) Although the GOT has ample law enforcement
resources to fight trafficking, it claims not to have
adequate funding for shelters or rehabilitation for
trafficking victims. However, the GOT is considering the
conversion of state-owned unused social training centers to
shelters and is negotiating with NGOs, most notably IOM, to
provide rehabilitation services to victims.
A. (SBU) While government officials acknowledge that
trafficking occurs, they argue that its scope is limited.
They state that Turkey has a problem of foreign prostitution
and illegal migration, contending Turkey's liberal visa
regime for Balkan, Black Sea Littoral, and Caucasian states
-- usually an automatic visa at the border for a nominal fee
-- obviates the need for human smuggling gangs. However, in
response to international pressure, the GOT has begun
meaningful steps to combat TIP both in Turkey and in the
B. (U) Government agencies involved in anti-trafficking
efforts include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry
of the Interior (which oversees the police, Jandarma
(paramilitary rural police), and border guards); the Ministry
of Labor; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Health;
and the Directorate on the Status and Problems of Women
attached to the Ministry of Labor.
C. (U) There have not been any formal, Turkey-wide
anti-trafficking campaigns, to our knowledge. Ad hoc,
individual governors and police officials are reported to
have engaged in public awareness campaigns against
trafficking at the local level utilizing local NGOs. The
Directorate on the Problems and Status of Women held a panel
in December 2002 on the issue of TIP. The 200 plus attendees
included NGO representatives, journalists, police chiefs, and
MFA officials. The Ministry of Interior plans to give the
first training program to raise awareness of the TIP issue to
75 officers from 15 provinces by summer 2003.
D. (U) The GOT does not support other programs to prevent
trafficking, to our knowledge. However, the GOT is
finalizing a National Action Plan, under which it aims to:
- establish a national hotline for victims;
- establish shelters;
- centralize the issuance of work permits under one GOT body;
- provide legal assistance to foreigners in positions of
witnesses or victims during the continuations of court cases
opened under Article 201(b);
- provide more detailed training programs for officials on
how to take victim statements and how to determine who is a
victim; and,
- increase the number of NGOs working on combating
E. (SBU) The GOT claims financial difficulties in funding
prevention programs. However, GOT is pursuing alternate
funding opportunities, most notably NGO support, and
expanding current training programs to GOT officials to
include an anti-TIP component.
F. (SBU/NF) Neither Post nor IOM is aware of any Turkish or
foreign NGO actively engaged in fighting the trafficking of
women or aiding victims. However, GOT recently contacted IOM
to prepare information on possible joint victim assistance
programs. The British Council, the cultural office of the
British Embassy, organized a two-day conference on the issue
of trafficking in June 2002. Regional scholars, police
officials, and NGOs participated.
G. (SBU/NF) Turkey borders Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia,
Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Bulgaria, as well as EU member Greece.
Istanbul has a large international airport and there are
also international ports of entry by land, sea, and air
through several other cities, including Ankara, Trabzon,
Erzurum, Adana, and Sarp, on the Georgian border. Although
the government expends considerable law enforcement resource
to monitor its borders, which are vast and remote, it is not
always successful, and the smuggling of goods and humans
occurs. Contacts report, however, that the vast majority of
trafficking victims and other foreign women who engage in
prostitution enter Turkey legally, either by getting work
permits at Turkish Embassies abroad or, more commonly, by
obtaining one month visas at the border. Since the collapse
of the Soviet Union, Turkey has adopted a liberal visa regime
with countries formerly in the Soviet Empire to encourage
trade and tourism. Women who are deported for prostitution
come back repeatedly, according to police. They alter their
names slightly or receive a passport in an entirely different
name with the help, according to Turkish police, of corrupt
officials in source countries or organized criminals. Poor
centralization in Turkish border control or corruption may
also aid reentry. Only the passports of women testing
positive for sexually transmitted diseases are scanned into a
centralized computer system.
H. (SBU/NF) The GOT started an inter-agency task force to
combat TIP led by the MFA Deputy Director General for Illegal
Migration. (See number five; G for list of members of the
task force). This task force is finalizing a "National
Action Plan" that will study all aspects of trafficking.
Also, the Ministry of Interior has established an internal
task force comprised of all relevant sections of the Ministry
to coordinate its efforts to fight TIP.
I. (U) Turkey plays an active role in the international
community by regularly attending conferences hosted by SECI,
USDOS, and IOM. GOT further works with the United Nations,
OSCE (Stability Pact and ODIHR), Interpol, and the European
Union to combat trafficking. Turkey has been especially
active in the Trafficking Task Force within the framework of
the Stability Pact/ODIHR.
J. GOT has not yet provided copies of its National Action
Plan in response to repeated Embassy requests.
K. The MFA's Deputy Director General for Illegal Migration
spearheads the GOT's anti-trafficking initiatives as head of
the coordinating body for all agencies involved.
A. (U) On August 3, 2002, the Turkish Parliament passed
anti-trafficking legislation, Article 201(b) of the Turkish
Penal Code.
The text of the law is as follows: "Those who provide,
kidnap, take or transfer from one place to another and house
other individuals with the intention of making them work or
serve by force, subject them to slavery or similar treatment,
threaten, pressure, use force or coercion to persuade them to
give up their bodily organs, use undue influence, secure
their consent by deception or by using the desperation of
such individuals shall be sentenced to five to ten years of
heavy imprisonment and a heavy fine of not less than one
billion liras.
"If the actions that constitute a crime attempted with the
intentions laid out in the first paragraph exist, the victim
is assumed not to have given his/her consent.
"If the children below the age of eighteen are provided,
kidnapped, taken or transferred from one place to another or
housed with the intentions specified in paragraph one, even
when no intermediary actions relation to the crime are
committed, the penalties foreseen in paragraph one shall
still be applied to the perpetrator.
"If the crimes listed in the paragraphs above are committed
in an organized manner, the penalties foreseen for the
perpetrators shall be doubled."
B. (U) The penalty for traffickers is five to ten years of
heavy imprisonment and a fine of not less than one billion
Turkish Liras. These penalties may be doubled if the crimes
were committed in an organized manner.
C. (U) According to the Turkish Penal Code Article 416, the
penalty for rape and/or forced sexual assault is at least
seven years. Attorney contacts note, however, that rape is
difficult to prove and suspects may receive lighter sentences
for various reasons involved in the incident.
D. (U) While final statistics regarding the implementation of
the anti-trafficking legislation are expected in June 2003,
GOT tells us that four pending cases have been brought
against traffickers since August 2002. At the time of this
report, there were two public cases opened with trials
ongoing. The first of these cases was opened at the Criminal
Court of Ordu on November 18, 2002, and the second was opened
at the second Criminal Court of Van on October 10, 2002. Two
preliminary investigations have been also been performed.
The public prosecutor in Ozalp/Van investigated 7 individuals
and the prosecutor in Beykoz/Istanbul investigated five
individuals for their activities associated with trafficking;
the results are pending. GOT did not provide further
details. At the time of this report, reportedly thirty-four
persons have been apprehended across Turkey by local police
for their involvement in TIP and sent to the court under
Article 201(b). Eight individuals were taken into custody in
Antalya, three in Kocaeli, two in Ankara, five in Manisa, two
in Nevsehir, two in Denizli, and ten in Istanbul.
E. (SBU/NF) Generally, it is believed that organized crime
groups from states formerly in the Soviet Empire are behind
trafficking. Contacts repeatedly stated that trafficking,
where it exists, is in the hands of small operators. Groups
may be as small as four or five people who are connected,
most often, through kinship or friendship. Increasingly,
former prostitutes who have gained Turkish citizenship are
working as procurers and pimps and bring women on tourist
visas. Traffickers posing as tourist agencies or firms in
source countries bring women to Turkey with official work
permits. Hotel owners are also believed to coerce women who
work as prostitutes.
F. (SBU/NF) Official sources tell us Turkey actively
investigates cases of trafficking using special investigation
techniques. Police officials in Trabzon stated they used
primarily undercover operations against traffickers. The
Ministry of Interior recently instructed governorships to
issue humanitarian visas and temporary residence permits for
victims to begin rehabilitation. Our legal contacts hope
these visas and residence permits will allow victims to serve
as witnesses in investigations and trials of traffickers.
Mitigated punishment or immunity for cooperating suspects may
be granted unofficially; under Turkish law, there is no
policy for plea-bargaining or other confessional treatment
for victims of trafficking.
G. (U) The GOT has begun implementing formal training
programs on trafficking for police and judicial officials.
The Ministry of Justice has given several training seminars
to approximately 600 judges and prosecutors on the issue of
combating trafficking-in-persons between the period of
October 2002 and February 2003. The Ministry of Interior
recently developed a trafficking training program for 75
police officials that will be completed by spring 2003. As
these training programs were internally developed and
administered, Post is unaware of the content discussed or
length of these seminars. The GOT also provides special
training to the TNP's Foreigner Section officials in areas
such as visa fraud, passport forgery, and illegal entries.
H. (SBU/NF) Turkey maintains security cooperation agreements,
which deal with trafficking, with Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine,
Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia. As of
late January 2003, the MFA told Post GOT had not been
contacted by any countries regarding cases of trafficking.
Turkey cooperates with the OSCE, EU, Interpol, Europol, and
the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. GOT officials have
attended numerous international conferences on the issue of
trafficking, organized by governmental and NGO bodies.
I. (U) We have no information regarding the extradition of
persons charged with trafficking from other countries or
whether or not the government allows the extradition of its
own nationals, if any, charged with such offenses.
J. (SBU/NF) We have no direct evidence of official
involvement in or tolerance of trafficking at an official
level. Contacts state there is some tolerance of foreign
prostitution as long as it is kept within certain limits.
Authorities may turn a blind eye in the belief prostitution
brings an economic benefit. Places where foreign women
congregate may provide a cover for trafficked women. One
government source stated a current informant involved in
trafficking was a former police officer who turned to
trafficking crimes because of the money involved.
K. (SBU/NF) We do not have any direct evidence of GOT
involvement in trafficking.
L. (U) Turkey has adopted the following conventions:
-- ILO Convention 182 (Ratified early 2001)
-- ILO Convention 29 and 105 on Forced or Compulsory Labor
(ILO Convention 29 went into effect on January 27, 1998 and
ILO Convention 105 on December 21, 1960)
-- Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child
Pornography (Ratified May 9, 2002)
-- The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish
Trafficking-in-Persons, especially Women and Children,
Supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational
Organized Crime (Signed December 2000; Ratified January 31,
2003 and put into force February 4, 2003)
A. (SBU) The GOT intends to provide significant assistance to
victims in the future. In the past, those who have been
trafficked into Turkey were generally detained and deported.
The Ministry of Interior recently instructed all
governorships to issue humanitarian visas and temporary
residence permits for victims, to begin rehabilitation and
treatment for the victim as well as to allow officials to
begin investigation of traffickers and start legal action.
The GOT, under the umbrella of its Trafficking-in-Persons
task force, has plans to open TIP shelters in locations
believed to be vulnerable to trafficking. The Ministry of
Interior ordered governors in 20 at risk cities to search the
possibility to create shelters. These governors were
instructed to look at state-owned buildings that were not
currently in use. The GOT has also contacted IOM in Turkey
to prepare a proposal for the operation of such shelters;
however, no agreement has been reached. At the time of this
report, there were no shelters for trafficking victims.
If a foreign woman is detained for prostitution, she is
tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) before
deportation. According to the police chief in Trabzon, if a
woman tests positive for a STD and requests assistance, she
would receive medical help. In 2002, very few women who were
deported for prostitution from Trabzon and tested positive
for STDs, requested and received medical care. According to
the Trabzon Police Chief, 740 foreign women were deported
from Trabzon in 2002. All were subject to medical tests and
36 were infected with various diseases.
B. (SBU) Turkey does not fund victim services, and there are
no Turkish NGOs that provide such services. Only IOM Turkey
has worked with source country embassies to provide travel
documents to women who have been detained for prostitution or
escaped from traffickers.
C. (SBU) While Turkey plans to take more victim assistance
measures, victims of trafficking and foreign women detained
for prostitution have been generally deported within two
weeks of detention.
D. (SBU) We have no evidence indicating that victims are
encouraged to file civil lawsuits or seek legal action
against traffickers. The introduction of humanitarian visas
and temporary work permits (see para A) may show victims more
willing to seek legal action.
E. (SBU) To our knowledge, the government does not provide
protection for victims and witnesses.
F. (SBU) The GOT has provided trafficking-in-persons training
to judicial and police officials (see question 7 para G);
however, course content has not been shared with post. The
second part of the question does not apply because Turkey is
not a source country.
G. (U) Not applicable. Turkey is not a source country.
H. (U) There are no Turkish NGOs working with trafficking
victims. To our knowledge, IOM Turkey is the only NGO that
has provided assistance to trafficking victims (see para B).
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media