Member of Tajikistan’s Parliament Reflects on US Study Tour on Trafficking in Persons

July 2017

Jamshed Murtazaqulov earned his law degree from Tajik National University in 1995 and served as a professor of law at the university from 1995-2015. In 2015, he was elected as a lawmaker of the Lower Chamber of the Parliament of Tajikistan. Murtazaqulov is a member of the American Bar Association Rule of Law’s (ABA ROLI) Legislative Reform Working Group, which identifies gaps in human rights legislation and proposes reforms to fill them. From May 13-20, he and other members of the working group met with government, justice sector, legislative and civil society counterparts in Washington, D.C., to discuss best practices for combating trafficking in persons (TIP), through a study tour hosted by ABA ROLI.

ABA ROLI recently spoke with Murtazaqulov regarding his involvement with the ABA ROLI Legislative Reform Working Group, efforts to combat TIP in Tajikistan and the benefits of the U.S. study tour. This study tour took place as part of the Justice Sector Equality Program, which began in January 2017, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.  

Jamshed Murtazaqulov attended the study tour

As part of the ABA ROLI study tour, Jamshed Murtazaqulov met with U.S. Congress representatives to identify priorities and challenges in combating human trafficking. 

ABA ROLI: How did you get involved with the Legislative Reform Working Group and ABA ROLI?

Murtazaqulov: After ABA ROLI requested the government and Parliament of Tajikistan to establish an interagency working group, I was officially nominated to that group to represent the lawmaking institution.

ABA ROLI: What does cooperation with ABA ROLI on combating TIP bring to the Tajikistan justice community?

Murtazaqulov: Cooperation with ABA ROLI in this area has become very useful and beneficial for the Tajik justice community. We have already begun to see positive, tangible results such as properly trained key representatives of the policymaking and lawmaking institutions (president’s office and parliament). Also, the recommendations developed for the relevant legislation by using inter-sectorial approaches, in my opinion, is a good example of the effectiveness of this cooperation.

ABA ROLI: What were some of your key takeaways from the study tour regarding the U.S. approach to combating TIP, and how will what you learned on the trip inform your anti-trafficking efforts in Tajikistan?

Murtazaqulov: The key takeaways from the study tour were conforming the necessity of strict adherence to the international standards directed toward the idea of global understanding and recognition of the human trafficking phenomena as a severe form of transnational organized crime, and using the Palermo Protocol as the main frame to base Tajik legislation (aimed at TIP).

ABA ROLI: Are there any parts of the study tour that you found particularly beneficial? If so, what were they and why?

Murtazaqulov: The most interesting and relevant part of the study tour was meeting with the representatives of the U.S. Congress — Allison Hollabaugh and Patrick Day— which highlighted that American lawmakers and Tajik lawmakers generally have a common understanding of the necessity of urgent and effective legal response to human trafficking issues at national and international levels. It was clear during the meeting that there are many different approaches to combating trafficking due to variances in the approaches in framework, international treaties and main anti-trafficking goals in each country. I also learned about the different types of legal instruments outlined in U.S. legislation on TIP, such as a highly developed restitution mechanism for survivors and the “T visa”. We also discussed how American colleagues find balance between interests of the involved parties, including how to avoid coercion and how to properly develop legal mechanisms that cover the interests of the prosecution and law enforcement while still providing fully guaranteed rights of the victims per international standards. That topic is very important in Tajikistan, and the ideas from the study tour and the U.S. experience generally can be really useful in our national ongoing legislation efforts.

ABA ROLI: What can you tell us about TIP in Tajikistan? What makes Tajikistan a source country for people subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking?

Murtazaqulov: Economic and social problems make Tajikistan a source country for labor migration and increase potential risks for the migrants to become victims of different types of exploitation. In general, the majority of the population suffers from vulnerability due to economic and social problems, and is under potential risk of trafficking. Due to the prevalence of different types of exploitation and geographical areas, these vulnerable populations can be grouped into specific categories. For example, with respect to sexual exploitation in Gulf countries, the most vulnerable categories are girls, women, and young boys, who are illegally used for camel races. In Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, migrant male workers are mostly victims of forced labor.

ABA ROLI: In your opinion, why is combating TIP important for Tajikistan?

Murtazaqulov: Combating TIP is important for Tajikistan, as for any other country, because it is a violation of fundamental human rights and freedom.

ABA ROLI: What challenges does Tajikistan face in its efforts to combat TIP? Do you have any suggestions for what Tajikistan can do to circumvent these obstacles?

Murtazaqulov: The main challenges for Tajikistan in this area are the lack of the requisite resources and professional capacity of the involved stakeholders, and the necessity of continuously updating and optimizing relevant legislation according to the best international practice and key standards.

ABA ROLI: Going forward, what do you think Tajikistan should prioritize in its fight against TIP?

Murtazaqulov: The priorities at that stage should be deep and comprehensive analysis and understanding of the relevant existing legal instruments, their compliance with international standards and real practices, capacity and other local circumstances and, thereafter, further optimization of the relevant legal frameworks.


To learn more about our work in Tajikistan, please contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org

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