USAID, OSCE Fighting Human Trafficking in Azerbaijan

The U.S. Agency for International Development and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe are collaborating to combat human trafficking and improve access to the justice system in Azerbaijan.

Michael Greene, USAID’s Azerbaijan mission director, and Koray Targay, head of the OSCE office in Baku, signed a grant agreement September 29.

Under the grant, USAID will support the OSCE’s efforts in the security and justice sectors. This will improve coordination and capacity among government and nongovernmental officials to help victims of trafficking and forced labor, and train media to report on this topic. The grant will also fund legal resource centers in Sheki and Lankaran that will provide free legal assistance to the public.

The agreement will finance these activities through September 2013.

U.S. Ambassador Matthew Bryza and Shikhaliyev Javad Suleyman, chief of Azerbaijan’s Office on Struggle Against Human Trafficking, attended the signing ceremony. Bryza told attendees that the grant shows that “the United States, in cooperation with the OSCE, is committed to helping our Azerbaijani partners combat this modern-day form of slavery.”

Bryza added that the OSCE office in Baku will implement the cooperation with the government of Azerbaijan and civil society, which will contribute significantly to combating human trafficking in Azerbaijan.

“USAID’s support for these two projects will enable the government of Azerbaijan to improve its compliance with OSCE commitments,” Targay said. “Advancement in the security and justice sectors can help Azerbaijan build on the success of its recent development in the energy sector to create a hospitable environment for pluralistic democracy, human rights and economic prosperity for many years to come.”

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