Turkey on Trafficking in Human Beings


Human trafficking is the recruitment, abduction, transportation and transfer of persons, by means of the threat or use of force/coercion or of the abuse of power or of deception, for purposes of sexual and labour exploitation and of organ removal. Although in Turkey trafficking in human beings emanates from sexual exploitation, the strategy on fight against human trafficking, takes into account the reality that women, men and children may be exposed to the crime of human trafficking and they can be the target of different versions of human trafficking.

Trafficking in human beings is slavery. Trafficking in Human Beings is known as the third profitable illegal activity after drug and gun smuggling.

Due to her unique geographical position, Turkey is a destination country. Victims of THB are mostly from old Soviet Republics.

I. Statistical Data


Fight Against THB *

Number of rescued victims Number of voluntarily returned Number of accommodated in shelters Number of human traffickers apprehended
2004 239 61  18** 227
2005 256 220  142 379
2006 246 197 190 422
2007 148 117 114 308

* Trafficking in human beings is frequently confused with human smuggling. Human smuggling is to assist for profit purposes, persons who do not possess a permanent residence in Turkey to enter and reside illegally and Turkish nationals to exit the country illegally.

** The number of the victims of human trafficking who accommodated, had medical and psychological assistance in shelters between November 2004-December 2004.

II. Measures

The measures taken in the field of combating against THB in the frame of a harmonized, consistent and coordinative approach by the Turkish Government are listed below:

A. Legal Measures

- United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo) and its two additional Protocols Trafficking in Human Beings and Smuggling of Migrants were ratified on 18 March 2003.

- The Article 80 of the new Criminal Code which was put into force on 1 June 2005, describes THB and foresees sentences to eight to twelve years of imprisonment and to judicial fines up to an amount corresponding to ten thousand days. The said article includes safety measures for the legal entities which commit this offence intentionally.

On 19 December 2006 “forced for prostitution” is included in the description of THB in article 80 of Turkish Criminal Code. Thus, forced prostitution, the most important dimension of human trafficking, will be punished with this article. Positive outcome of the amendment of the Article 80 is expected by the beginning of 2008.

- With the “Law on Working Permits for Foreigners” put into force on 6 September 2003, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security is authorized to issue all forms of working permits. Employment in domestic services is also made possible with this law.

- In accordance with the amendment of the “Citizenship Law”, a probation period of 3 years is required for acquiring Turkish citizenship through marriage. Those who have a job incompatible with the marriage and do not share the same house with the spouse will not be able to acquire Turkish citizenship.

- Road Transport regulation which has become effective as of February 25th 2004, states that the transportation permit will not be renewed for 3 years if the person is sentenced according to certain crimes including human trafficking.

- “A National Action Plan on Combating THB” prepared by the National Task Force was approved by the Office of Prime Minister in 2003. The National Task Force on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings comprises representatives from several Ministries, Institutions, International Organizations and NGO’s. The Action Plan has been implemented. The Second National Action Plan has been prepared within the context of “The Project of Strengthening Institutions in the Fight Against Trafficking in Human Beings”. This project was executed by the Ministry of Interior since January 2006, under the context of EU-Turkey Financial Assistance of 2003 Program. The new action plan will be soon approved.

B. Administrative Regulations

- A “National Task Force on Combatting THB” has been established. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs chairs the task force and is the national coordinator.

- Shelters were established in 2004 in Istanbul and in 2005 in Ankara for victims of THB.

- A toll free/tip off emergency helpline (157) became operational in May 2005. The helpline is reachable from all parts of Turkey and mobile phones and is answered in Russian, Romanian, English and Turkish languages. The helpline became operational for international calls (+90312 157 11 22) in April 2007.

- Within the context of the project implemented with the contributions of IOM and aiming at assisting victims of THB, informative leaflets were prepared and distributed at our border gates, especially in Istanbul, Ankara, Trabzon air and sea ports. The target was to inform the foreigners visiting Turkey in tourism season about the 157 helpline. Informative spot TV programs are carried out. Training was given to law enforcement officials. First public awareness campaign with the title “Have you seen my mother?” was launched on 2 February 2006 with the contributions of IOM and coordination of the Turkish Government.

- Entry and exit of victims of THB are exempted from any charges or penalties and “temporary entry restriction to Turkey” is not applied.

- A circular note on the investigation of human trafficking crime, the identification of the victims and the processing applied for victims and a Guideline on fight against THB were diffused to relevant organizations, institutions and governorships by the Ministry of Interior, Directorate General for Security.

- In 2005, 100.000 Turkish, 25.000 English and 25.000 Russian “Fighting Against THB” brochures were prepared and circulated to police stations throughout Turkey and to cities with high rate of human trafficking cases.

C. Regulations Relating To Victim Assistance

- The Ministry of Interior has instructed the governorships to transform the inactive educational and social centers into shelters.

- “Humanitarian visa and short term residence permits” are issued to victims in order to enable them to stay legally in Turkey during their rehabilitation period.

- Voluntary return of the victims is provided safely with the cooperation of law enforcement officials, IOM, relevant institutions in the source country and local NGOs. 543 victims were voluntarily returned in cooperation with IOM since 2005.

- A cabinet decision was put into force in January 2004 by the Ministry of Health, in order to extend free medical care to victims of THB.

- Voluntary advocates of the Bar Association extend free legal counseling to the victims of THB.

- Judicial, psychological and medical counseling is ensured to the victims in shelters in Istanbul and Ankara.

D. International Cooperation

- Turkey participates in and supports the activities, carried out by the UN, the OSCE, the NATO, the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the Stability Pact, in the field of fighting against THB.

- Turkey has signed cooperation Protocols on fighting against THB with Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Ukraine.

Some common operations are being implemented within the framework of cooperation between the source countries and Ministry of Interiors to fight against THB.

- Turkey has signed a cooperation protocol with International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and she became a member of International Organization for Migration (IOM) on 30 November 2004.

- The project “Fight Against THB: Turkey, Local Action and Direct Assistance” is implemented by IOM and financed by Turkish Government, Norway and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

- Supported by Turkish Government and conducted by IOM, “Project of Raising Capacity in the Black Sea Region for Sharing Intelligence” has been finalized.

- Financed by European Commission and conducted by IOM, third phase of the AGIS project, “Strengthening of Operational Network and Cooperation Mechanisms in fighting against THB through Joint Multi-disciplinary Training process in European, Candidate and Neighboring Countries” has been finalized.

- “The Project of Strengthening Institutions in the Fight Against Trafficking in Human Beings” is being executed by the Ministry of Interior since January 2006, in context of EU-Turkey Financial Assistance 2003 Program.

-2006 Report  on Combatting Human Trafficking has been approved by the National Task Force. The Report has been issued in English and Turkish languages and is distributed in international platforms.

-A conference on Trafficking in Human beings in the Black Sea Region was held on 9-10 October 2007 within the initiative of Turkey as the chairman of the Budapest Process and the chairmanship in-office of the BSEC. The conference was organised in cooperation with the Budapest Process, the BSEC and the UNODC.

The conference was included under the UNODC “Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery”(UN:GIFT) implemented jointly by UNODC and UN Crime and Justice Research Institute since March 1999. The conference contributed to the Project “Strengthening the Criminal Justice Response to Trafficking in Persons in the Black Sea Region”  to be implemented by BSEC and UNODC.

Furthermore, the “chairman’s summary” adopted at the conference will be submitted to UN.GIFT Vienna Forum to be held in 2008 February. Vienna Forum is a preparatory meeting for the Abu Dhabi conference which will be held in 2008 preferably at Ministerial level.

-The EU donation Project titled “Supporting Turkey’s efforts to combat human trafficking and promote access to justice for all trafficked persons” has been prepared by IOM and approved by EU Commission. The duration of the Project is 24 months. Its first Steering Committe Meeting was held on 22 January at the Ministry of Interior. It will be implemented by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

2007 Report on Combating Human Trafficking - Turkey

2006 Report on Combating Human Trafficking - Turkey