Human Rights

In photos: live-action simulations of human trafficking raids in Kazakhstan

By Aydar Ashimov

An actor portrays a foreman forcing enslaved labourers to work on a farm. Slaves are a modern reality, said the organisers of a training exercise in Koshi on September 27. [Aydar Ashimov]

Law enforcement personnel simulate the arrest of a human trafficker and freeing of several enslaved labourers during a training exercise in Koshi on September 27. [Aydar Ashimov]

Hypothetical kidnappers of girls are shown "in custody" during a training exercise in Koshi September 27. [Aydar Ashimov]

An actress plays a suspected human trafficker in an exercise in Koshi September 27. She refuses to leave her vehicle and attempts to assert her innocence to a police officer.[Aydar Ashimov]

A brothel holding female captives is simulated in this building as part of an OSCE exercise in Koshi September 27. [Aydar Ashimov]

Police officers prepare to "raid" a brothel holding enslaved women as part of an exercise in Koshi September 27. A policewoman pretends to be a neighbour so that suspects will open the door. [Aydar Ashimov]

An actress portrays a girl who was forced into prostitution and held against her will as part of an OSCE exercise in Koshi September 27. [Aydar Ashimov]

Human traffickers often beat their victims and turn them into drug addicts, say law enforcement personnel and analysts. An actress plays one such victim during an exercise in Koshi on September 27. [Aydar Ashimov]

Police "detain" the guards and pimps of a simulated brothel as part of an exercise in Koshi September 27. [Aydar Ashimov]

An investigator collects physical evidence, including a syringe used for illegal drugs, in a simulated brothel during an exercise in Koshi on September 27. [Aydar Ashimov]

Two actresses portray victims of human trafficking during a law enforcement exercise in Koshi on September 27. [Aydar Ashimov]

ASTANA -- The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) held a live-action exercise September 24-30 in Kazakhstan on countering human trafficking, complete with actors and simulated environments.

"More than 50 professionals from law enforcement, labour inspectorates, financial investigative units, prosecutorial offices, NGOs and social services" from 14 OSCE partners and members took part in the week-long simulation in Koshi, Akmola Province, said the OSCE in a statement.

"By gathering experts from different fields, including financial investigation units, social and migration services, lawyers and NGOs, we are working toward bringing together a multi-agency and multi-disciplinary network of professionals across the OSCE region," Valiant Richey, OSCE acting co-ordinator for combating trafficking in human beings, said in the statement.

"Our simulation exercises are realistic, practical and cross-dimensional to effectively enhance participating states' ability to identify victims, investigate suspected trafficking cases, and prosecute exploiters and perpetrators," he said.


Police officers "arrest" actors playing guards and pimps in a simulated brothel during an OSCE-organised exercise in Koshi on September 27. The training scenarios gave frontline responders the opportunity to simulate real life anti-trafficking responses. [Aydar Ashimov]

This training is part of the OSCE's efforts to facilitate "better identification and assistance of trafficking victims through a new, multi-national and cross-sectoral approach", the statement said.

"International co-operation is extremely important," Kazakh Deputy Prosecutor General Andrey Lukin said in the statement.

"The efficiency of the anti-trafficking response depends on the co-ordinated and coherent work of practitioners from different countries," he said. "The goal of this simulation training, involving participants from 14 countries, is to rally all of us and to unite our efforts to combat this crime."

Simulating real-life anti-trafficking responses

The live-action training focused on how to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking, according to project organisers.

"This innovative course is being held in Russian for the first time and [models] measures to fight human trafficking," Asel Karatayeva, a programme assistant with the military-political department of the OSCE Programme Office in Astana, told Caravanserai.

"The exercises involve professional actors and actual stories of human trafficking," she said.

The exercise re-created brothels, a construction site and a farm field to recreate cases of labour and sexual exploitation, including of child victims. Frontline responders were able to "simulate real-life anti-trafficking responses", said the OSCE in its statement.

"The idea of [such anti-trafficking live-action training] in this format came from the OSCE," Diana Digol, deputy head of the OSCE Programme Office in Astana, told Caravanserai.

Previous OSCE exercises to combat human trafficking took place in Vicenza, Italy, most recently in January.

Those previous courses have impressed participants like Italian Public Prosecutor David Mancini, who praised the new approach as "truly unique" and producing "genuinely extraordinary" results, according to the OSCE.

"The border between reality and simulation becomes increasingly blurred for all participants," Mancini said.

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