The government maintained negligible efforts to prevent human trafficking. The government did not have an active national action plan (NAP) for 2019 but reported it collaborated with an international organization to implement its 2016-2018 NAP. In December 2019, the government, with assistance from an international organization, approved its 2020-2022 NAP; the government did not allocate financial resources to implement the plan but provided some in-kind contributions. The government did not take any steps to eliminate state policies that perpetuated government-compelled forced labor during the cotton harvest or in public works projects. The government reported it purchased cotton picking and planting machinery in an effort to mechanize the harvest to reduce dependency on human labor; however, the government did not report the implementation and effectiveness of the machinery and, due to a lack of independent observation, the impacts of mechanization were unknown. Despite the absence of formal observation by international organizations, informal observers have noted a visible decline in recent years of forced labor in cotton harvesting and sowing, likely due to mechanization, the availability of low-wage labor, and possibly other factors. Independent media and civil society continued to report local government officials in some areas required public sector workers pay for a replacement picker through an unregulated, informal system, creating a penalty for not participating in the forced labor system and a means of extortion for corrupt officials. Informal observation suggested forced child labor in the harvesting and sowing of cotton seemed to be minimal or non-existent.
The 2016 anti-trafficking law assigned responsibilities for anti-trafficking efforts among government agencies and charged the cabinet of ministers with planning, funding, and implementing anti-trafficking policy. It also called for the creation of an interagency anti-trafficking committee, comprising several cabinet-level agencies and under the authority of the cabinet of ministers, to coordinate, plan, monitor, and report on the government’s anti-trafficking efforts and analyze trends, improve victim protection measures, raise awareness, and monitor implementation of the NAP. The government established the interagency anti-trafficking committee in 2019; an international organization assisted convening the group. The law required the Ministry of Internal Affairs to record data on trafficking crimes; however, for the fourth year, the government did not report any systematic efforts to monitor its anti-trafficking efforts and did not make publicly available government data on the incidence of trafficking and trafficking-related prosecutions and convictions. The government cooperated with NGOs to conduct awareness campaigns in rural areas targeting vulnerable populations. The campaigns included trainings, information sessions, workshops, round tables, movie demonstrations, and school discussions. According to civil society, the government charged NGOs fees to place anti-trafficking awareness material in a government-owned public space. The government did not have procedures to regulate labor recruiters and did not report efforts to punish labor recruiters or brokers involved in the fraudulent recruitment of workers. The stateless population in Turkmenistan, mostly consisting of former Soviet citizens, was vulnerable to trafficking; in 2019, the government granted citizenship to 863 stateless persons permanently living in Turkmenistan, compared with 735 persons in 2018. State migration officials routinely prevented individuals from departing the country by stopping them at the Ashgabat airports; anecdotal evidence suggests thousands of people were prevented from exiting Turkmenistan in 2019. The government reported that it restricted the travel of young women in particular as a preventative measure against being exploited by traffickers abroad. The government, in partnership with an international organization, provided anti-trafficking trainings to its diplomatic personnel. The government made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts by criminalizing the purchase of commercial sex.