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EAST-WEST-RESEARCH  June 2002

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Subject:

Russian anti-trafficking coalition calls on President Putin

From:

Andrew Jameson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Andrew Jameson <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 20 Jun 2002 17:12:09 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (127 lines)

Johnson's Russia List
#6318
20 June 2002
[log in to unmask]
A CDI Project
www.cdi.org

#13
From: "Juliette M. Engel, MD" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Russian anti-trafficking coalition calls on President Putin
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002

Russian anti-trafficking coalition calls on President Putin to respond to
U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report criticizing Russia's
poor performance

MOSCOW-Russia's largest anti-trafficking consortium of non-governmental
human rights organizations today urged President Putin to immediately
establish an Anti-Trafficking Task Force and adopt a new 10-point
trafficking prevention/education action plan "to help save tens of
thousands of Russian women from being lured overseas by criminal
traffickers each year and avoid the threat of losing hundreds of millions
of dollars in U.S. foreign aid for Russia's continuing failure to address
its trafficking crisis."

Citing the recently released U.S. State Department's 2002 Trafficking in
Persons Report (the "TIP Report") which ranked 89 countries around the
world according to their anti-trafficking activities, Marianna Solomotova,
the development director of the Angel Coalition's Moscow office, said "as a
member of the UN, OSCE and other world bodies, Russia has known about its
trafficking crisis for years. The international community and Russian NGO's
have repeatedly asked our government to take action to protect girls and
young women from these criminal traffickers, but the response has always
been denial. Now our country faces the serious risk of being sanctioned by
the U.S. government for its continued negligence and abandonment of these
women."

"We are appealing directly to President Putin for his help," Solomotova
explained, "because of Labor Minister Pochinok's completely unacceptable
official response to the TIP Report, claiming that trafficking is an
'isolated' phenomenon in Russia and that all victims receive the
'appropriate response' of state organs and the media."

The annual TIP Report is required by the U.S. Congress as part of its
strong anti-trafficking law mandating economic sanctions against all
countries who "do not fully comply with the minimum (anti-trafficking)
standards and are not making significant efforts to bring themselves into
compliance."  Such countries are ranked "Tier 3" and are given one year to
improve their record or face possible "termination of non-essential foreign
aid."  The 2002 TIP report ranks Russia and 18 other countries as such
"Tier 3" nations.

"In many regions of Russia, governors, Duma officials and other civic
authorities, NGO's and the public are completely supportive of our
anti-trafficking programs and acknowledge the real threat trafficking
poses-but the federal government has done nothing and the problem has
worsened," Solomotova said.

According the TIP report, 700,000 people are trafficked each year.  The
Angel Coalition and international anti-trafficking NGO's have provided
research estimating that up to 50,000 of these are trafficked from Russia.
"One only has to look at any newspaper in Russia to read all of the ads
promising 'good jobs overseas at high pay' to realize just how enormous the
problem is here," said  Solomotova , "the evidence is just overwhelming,
the threat is real and the damage to our country is profound."  Citing
Russia's steep population decline, Solomotova added that Russia can ill
afford to lose future mothers to traffickers.  "Even if these women escape,
they are so brutalized and traumatized, few will ever become parents," she
continued.

The 10-point action plan proposed by the Angel Coalition asks President
Putin to:
  Create a Moscow Anti-Trafficking Center to coordinate the rescue and
return of victims in cooperation with the international community
  Establish regional anti-trafficking offices in Russia for the
coordination/sharing of information and intelligence on organized crime,
trafficking routes, etc.
  Begin special training for Russian embassy officials in foreign
countries, foreign embassies in Russia, the police force, including border
officers;
  Begin internal investigations of Foreign Ministry officials and other
federal officers responsible for issuing, approving and/or processing visas
and travel documents to Russian citizens and organizations
  Enact legislation making participation/complicity in trafficking a
federal crime. In addition to lengthy jail sentences, convicted traffickers
and their accomplices should be required to forfeit of all trafficking
profits which can then be used to support continued anti-trafficking
prevention activities and a "Survivors Fund" to compensate and rehabilitate
trafficking victims;
  Develop educational programs for judges and the legal profession;
  Develop protection and assistance programs allowing/encouraging
trafficked victims to prosecute their traffickers;
  Encourage stronger mass media involvement to ensure trafficked women and
children are perceived as victims, and traffickers as crimials
   Establish regional safe-house/shelter (including legal and psychological
counseling) for trafficked women and children;
  Fund these activities by using income the Russian government receives
from issuing travel and transit visas.


"Some of these proposals are already in progress, such as foreign embassy
training here in Moscow and education activities to at-risk orphans, others
are awaiting funding, but all need the full support of the federal
government in order to send a strong message to traffickers that Russia is
finally taking a stand.  As soon as the federal government begins to take
action, we will become a Tier 2 or even possibly a Tier 1 country and the
end the threat of economic sanctions," she said.

"President Putin has met with NGO's to discuss social issues before.  And
he has also shown great courage in his willingness to discover and stop
regional and federal corruption.  We invite him or his representative to
meet with us so we can work together for the women of Russia to stop the
trafficking terrorists," Solomotova concluded.

The Angel Coalition, a consortium of 43 nongovernmental organizations
throughout Russia and 7 CIS countries, has been conducting anti-trafficking
education and prevention activities for the past three years and in May
2001, produced Russia's largest multi-media anti-trafficking advertising
campaign with funding supplied by international foundations.

Juliette M. Engel, MD
Director of International Relations
Angel Coalition, Moscow
[log in to unmask]

******

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