The government of Belarus does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, despite making significant efforts to do so, says the US Department of State in its 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report.
Belarus is a source and transit country for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, the report says. Belarusian women and children are subjected to sex trafficking in Russia, Germany, Poland, Cyprus, Italy, Egypt, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and within Belarus.
"Reports continued of women from low-income families in Belarus being subjected to forced prostitution in Minsk," the report says. "Belarusian men, women, and children are found in forced labor, including forced begging in foreign countries, such as Sweden, as well as in forced labor in the construction industry and other sectors in Russia and Belarus. Belarusian single, unemployed females between the ages of 16 and 30 and without higher education are at the greatest risk of becoming victims of human trafficking. Belarusian children aged 16 and 17 are found in sex trafficking within Belarus and in Russia. Belarusian men seeking work abroad are increasingly subjected to forced labor. Traffickers often used informal social networks to approach potential victims."
Despite its efforts, the Belarusian government did not demonstrate evidence of increasing anti-trafficking efforts over the previous reporting period, which is why Belarus is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a second consecutive year, the report says.
According to the US State Department, the Belarusian government's emphasis on anti-trafficking efforts shifted from prosecution and protection efforts to prevention during the reporting period. "Over the same period, there was a continued steep decline in victim identification, trafficking investigations, prosecutions and convictions," the report says. "The decline in victim identification, vigorous investigation, and prosecution of trafficking cases left trafficking victims unprotected. Although over 100 Belarusian victims were reported repatriated after being trafficking abroad, the Belarusian government did not report investigations commensurate with the extent of those victims identified, nor did it report government-funded services provided to more than three victims. The government did improve its prevention activities, making efforts to oppose child sex tourism and to raise public awareness; however, many of these campaigns blurred trafficking and illegal migration."