The government slightly increased victim protection efforts. The government identified 70 trafficking victims, compared with 63 victims in 2015. Sixty-nine victims were female and one was male, compared to 56 female victims, six male victims, and a child victim in 2015. All females were victims of sex trafficking and the male was a victim of forced labor. The government did not identify any child victims. ATD spent approximately 154,000 manat ($83,696) for victim protection, compared to approximately 109,000 manat ($59,239) from 2015. This amount included the ATD’s one-time allowance of 400 manat ($217) to all victims. The ATD spent approximately 900 manat ($489) a month per individual staying at the government-run shelter. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) allocated 15,000 manat ($8,152) to civil society representatives providing victim support services. The government allocated 48,000 manat ($26,086) to the Victim Assistance Center (VAC), an increase from 44,000 manat ($23,913) in 2015.
The government had a formal procedure for victim identification but first responders, including law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel, were either unaware of the procedure or did not consistently follow and understand it. First responders are required to refer potential victims within 48 hours to ATD, who are then officially recognized as victims based on an investigation. NGOs and the government provided support services to some potential victims; however, individuals without official recognition did not receive the one-time government-provided allowance and did not have the ability to bring a civil claim against the alleged traffickers. NGOs referred 466 potential trafficking victims to ATD but none were determined to be victims. Observers reported minimal efforts to proactively identify Azerbaijani victims of internal trafficking; as a result, all officially identified victims were foreign victims exploited in Azerbaijan or Azerbaijani victims repatriated from foreign countries, likely reflecting an overemphasis on transnational movement.
The MIA-run shelter accommodated 63 officially recognized victims and an additional seven potential victims, and provided clothing, specific dietary needs, medical and psychological assistance. The shelter has separate areas for women, men, and children. The MIA-run shelter limited freedom of movement for victims and required victims to submit an application to leave the shelter. The SMS-run reception center did not accommodate trafficking victims in 2016. The VAC provided legal, psychological, medical, and employment assistance to all 63 victims at the MIA-run shelter and assisted an additional 30 potential trafficking victims referred from NGOs and the hotline. The government allocated land to create three new VACs in Ganja, Guba, and Lankaran. ATD provided 42 beds and collected 2,000 manat ($1,087) in donations for NGO-run shelters; however, the government did not provide consistent funding to NGO-run shelters despite relying heavily on their victim support and reintegration services to 40 victims during the reporting period. NGOs remained severely underfunded and restrictive legislation governing foreign grants limited NGOs’ ability to receive funding from foreign donors. Most shelter staff who provided support services during the reporting period worked on a voluntary basis. The government amended an article in the criminal code; the amendment established a 30-day reflection period to victims before deciding whether to cooperate with authorities. The government did not penalize trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. A presidential decree prevented the Labor Inspectorate from conducting spontaneous employment inspections, which restricted proactive victim identification efforts. Two trafficking victims received restitution of 5,000 manat ($2,717) and two additional victims received sheep as restitution.