ANTI-TRAFFICKING AND GOVERNMENT POLICIES
As a transit point at the intersection of Europe and Asia, Azerbaijan is particularly exposed to transnational trafficking practices.
Furthermore, the occupation of 20% of the Azerbaijani territories by Armenian military forces that resulted in 132 km of the southern state border not being controlled by the Government of Azerbaijan, constitutes a major impediment for achieving progress in the fight against trafficking not only in Azerbaijan but also in the entire region, since this border area, the so-called "criminal black hole", is used as an attractive trafficking channel.
Therefore, challenges stand high for the Government to strengthen its efforts in order to efficiently tackle this problem on the domestic level as well as contribute to international endeavours through its involvement in multilateral and bilateral cooperation to combat international terrorism, transnational organized crime, money-laundering, trafficking and other illegal activities.
TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS
Relevant task-oriented work in the field of combating illegal migration is being carried out by the State Border Control Service, one of the leading agencies in managing migration trends in Azerbaijan. The State Border Service was established by the Presidential Decree of August 31, 2002. Its activities are two-fold: to safeguard, in compliance with the existing legal norms, the rights of individuals when entering and leaving the country and to suppress illegal migration. The Border Service strives to simplify border control without harming its reliability and endangering respect for human rights.
Over the last year the State Border Control Service has conducted certain actions to reinforce the struggle against illegal migration, monitoring of the border control system along the southern, northern and north-western border line as well as the program of a gradual reform of the border control system has been elaborated, the first national automatic information-retrieval system within the CIS region that enables to efficiently supervise the migration trends at the whole frontier perimeter, has been established and specific courses on migration control have been launched with the assistance of International Organization for Migration.
Moreover, as stipulated by the Decree of President of May 20, 2000, the Commission on harmonization of activities of state border checkpoints in line with international requirements was set up. Reported cases suggest that the following routes traversing Azerbaijan are most frequently used for illegal migration purposes:
- Iraq - Iran - Azerbaijan - Europe;
- Afghanistan - Iran - Azerbaijan - Europe;
- Afghanistan - Pakistan - Iran - Azerbaijan - Europe;
- Iran - Azerbaijan - China - Japan;
- Iran - Azerbaijan - Turkey - Europe.
Women trafficking (white slavery) has also turned to the scaled phenomenon. The main countries of destination have been Turkey and United Arab Emirates. The territory of Azerbaijan has been used as a transport corridor for women trafficking from Russia, Ukraine and the Central Asia to Turkey and United Arab Emirates.
The majority of illegal migrants attempts to illegally cross the state border of Azerbaijan outside the border checkpoints. Those of detained either did not carry necessary documentation about or had falsifications in their documentation. In 2002 there were detained 310 people with forged documents or those belonging to other people (393 cases were reported in 2001). The majority of 310 detainees were citizens of Asian, Middle East and African countries. For example, 54 citizens of Iran, 19 - Turkey, 5 - Nigeria, 8 - Pakistan, 6- Greece, 1- China, 1 - Israel were detained in the territory of Azerbaijan in 2002. Analysis demonstrates that illegal migrants tend to go mostly to European countries such as Bulgaria, France, Sweden, Norway and Germany.
Separate groups specialize in specific links of the entire chain of illegal trafficking in human beings. These groups operate in different countries and possess debagged modern communication facilities. In 2002 the State Border Control Service conducted a series of actions to prevent attempts of using the territory of Azerbaijan for transit of a large group of people to Europe. Consequently, it became evident that a transnational group which had tight relations in Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Belarus and other countries, was involved in illegal trafficking arrangements and provision of illegal migrants with forged documentation.
It should be further mentioned that a number of travel agencies run by certain foreign nationals in Baku have been engaged in furnishing of illegal migrants with false documents. These companies have been disclosed and their further activity suspended.
Several criminal groups involved in the illegal trafficking of migrants have also been detected at the Azerbaijani border with Iran, Georgia and Russia and their illegal activities have been discontinued.