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Human trafficking and legal practice: A new challenge for Ukraine

15 August 2006

Olga Pyshchulina - policy study August 2006

Olga Pyshchulina

2005-06 International Policy Fellow
Combating Organized Crime working group

Abstract:
This paper investigates why human trafficking appears to be increasing in Ukraine. Drawing attention to the severe problems in measuring human trafficking, it offers a critical review of legislation and examines the main difficulties facing police investigations. The research argues that not only is the real scale of the phenomenon obscured but that trafficking is unpunished by the lack of forceful and co-ordinated response from law enforcement bodies. Evidential difficulties and a widespread unwillingness of victims to report offenses compound this problem. Using a variety of research techniques to investigate recent trends, practices and destinations, it is apparent that existing evidence on trafficking is an amalgam of information collected in different ways, at different times, and using different definitions.

Current estimates concerning the numbers of women trafficked from Ukraine every year range from 40,000 to 420,000. Internal field data exists but is not generally accessible to the general public, however it does draw attention to the considerable non-statistical data and indirect trafficking indicators that exist. One deficiency is that trafficking is not well defined in the Ukrainian Criminal Code, so offences are often dealt with under associated legislation and convictions are not specifically recorded as trafficking cases.

Finally, Article 149 of the Criminal Code on "Trafficking in people" is analyzed. Whilst the introduction of this article demonstrates a positive moment of legislative change, the paper concludes with arguments to improve existing legislation and law enforcement in accordance with contemporary international approaches. Without such improvements, the danger is that Article 149 will not protect Ukrainian people, particularly women, from the risk of being involved in the illegal network of traffickers.

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