If you don't know where Azerbaijan is, don't feel bad, I had to look it up as well. The Republic of Azerbaijan is in the middle of Euro-Asia with Russia to the North, Armenia to the West, Iran to the South and the Caspian Sea to the East.
With it's prime location next to Russia, Armenia and Iran, Azerbaijan is a natural hotspot for human trafficking. Under the U.S. State Department 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Republic of Azerbaijan received a Tier 2 Rating. Tier 1 is the best rating and Tier 3 is the worst. The report cited a lack of prosecution and law enforcement within Azerbaijan pertaining to human trafficking and the high amount of sex trafficking within the country. You can read the full report here.
But a change in the right direction may be on the way. This morning the Deputy Interior Minister Vilayat Eyvazov reported to the Azerbaijan parliament that 4 human trafficking gangs had been neutralized recently and dozens of victims placed in safe havens and assistance centers year-to-date.
I hope the report is accurate and changes are coming within Azerbaijan and the region. As Gary Haugen, founder of the International Justice Mission, said in a meeting I attended earlier this year, "When public justice systems are made to protect the poor-slave owners, traffickers and other criminals can no longer act with impunity- millions of vulnerable children, women and men will never be abused."
The key to further success will be prosecution of the gangs and offenders. Preventative measures and after-care treatment is absolutely essential to ending modern slavery, but without justice systems working fairly and prosecutions taking place, it will never end.