DUSHANBE -- The US government last week issued two updates on a number projects it was helping Central Asian states with in their fight against human and drug trafficking.
On October 29, the US Embassy in Tajikistan hosted an online event that brought together personnel from government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other partner organisations to discuss achievements, lessons learned, and best practices to thwart human trafficking and to protect the rights of migrants and trafficking survivors.
The event focused on the achievements of the US Agency for International Development (USAID)'s Dignity and Rights project.
As part of the project, USAID has trained more than 500 government officials, NGOs and students on human rights, ethical hiring and ways to fight human trafficking and has spread awareness to more than 18,000 people about the risks of human trafficking and the rights of migrants.
"For many years now, we have fostered collaborative partnerships with the Tajik government, private sector, and civil society stakeholders to improve foreign labour recruitment and prevent trafficking incidents, raise public awareness, and enable survivors to access justice," John Ginkel, the chargé d'affaires for the US Embassy in Tajikistan, said at the event.
Over the past five years, more than 1,000 trafficking survivors and migrants have undergone rehabilitation and reintegration through the project. It has enabled more than 62,000 people to protect their rights, in part by turning to government agencies.
"Together, as partners, we can strengthen such systems to better serve the citizens of Tajikistan," he said.
The US and Tajik governments have co-operated for 20 years in fighting human trafficking, according to the embassy statement.
Since 2001, USAID has spent more than $20 million to raise awareness of human trafficking and to aid trafficking survivors in Tajikistan.
New tools to fight drug trafficking
Meanwhile, a newly refurbished analytical centre for the Kyrgyz Republic's Counternarcotics Service (CNS) reopened on October 29, the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan said in a statement.
Workers renovated the facility and installed a dedicated server, computers and an internal secured network. The US State Department funded and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime co-ordinated the larger initiative behind the upgrade. That initiative has a budget of more than $200,000.
The US government-funded project trained analytical officers and provided new mapping and intelligence analysis software.
The CNS centre's analytical products have already helped Kyrgyz agents seize large shipments of opiates and psychotropic substances that traffickers were trying to smuggle through Kyrgyzstan to Kazakhstan, Russia and the European Union.
Kyrgyz Vice Prime Minister Maksat Mamytkanov and Interior Minister Ulan Niazbekov presided over the inauguration of the centre with other law enforcement officials.
Officials at the event expressed hope that better counter-narcotics intelligence analysis would break up drug-smuggling rings.
The United States supports the CNS's efforts to seize and destroy trans-national rings' drug shipments.