UZBEKISTAN (Tier 2)
The Government of Uzbekistan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Uzbekistan remained on Tier 2. These efforts included investigating, prosecuting, and convicting more traffickers; increasing support for labor migrants abroad; and increasing funding for Uzbekistan’s only shelter dedicated for trafficking victims. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Existing laws establishing forced labor as an administrative violation at first offense continued to constrain effective enforcement. The government identified fewer victims. While the national government continued to enforce a ban on forced labor in the cotton harvest, some local officials allegedly continued to impose unofficial cotton production quotas in contravention of the national ban on the practice, which could perpetuate incentives for coercion in the cotton harvest.
PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS: Amend the provision, under Article 148 (2) of the Criminal Code, to remove the option for administrative violations for first time offenders of adult forced labor and ensure criminalization. * Streamline the victim identification process by allowing authorized ministries and local officials to grant official victim status and train all first responders to identify potential trafficking victims, refer them to care, and collaborate with civil society in the process. * Vigorously enforce the national ban on cotton production quotas and prohibit the utilization of similar practices that may pressure local authorities to mobilize citizens at local levels and strengthen efforts to ensure all citizens are aware of their “right to refuse” participation in other work outside their professional duties. * Respecting due process, increase investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking crimes and adequately sentence convicted traffickers, including complicit officials, and strengthen training for law enforcement on anti-trafficking legislation and understanding human trafficking. * Enable civil society and labor activists to operate freely, including by ensuring local governments do not interfere with the formation of labor unions and by removing obstacles to streamline and increase the registration of anti-trafficking NGOs and facilitate their work. * Establish a fund for victim protection and reintegration support, including legal assistance, which can also be used by regional governments to assist victims, and ensure victims are aware of the benefits they are entitled to. * Continue to grant and expand the access of independent observers to monitor cotton cultivation and fully cease the harassment, detention, and abuse of activists and journalists for documenting labor conditions. * Sufficiently increase the number of labor inspectors and provide them with systemic, specialized training to identify forced labor victims and report potential trafficking cases to law enforcement, including by allowing unfettered access to farms, cotton and silk clusters, factories, and construction sites for unannounced inspections. * Amend Article 135 of the Criminal Code to prevent allowing house arrest in lieu of imprisonment for sex trafficking crimes and ensure penalties are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. * Increase oversight of worker contracts in the cotton and silk sectors, and ensure workers have bargaining power, the choice of cluster-affiliation, access to copies of contracts, and ensure workers are aware of mechanisms to report complains and forced labor cases * Establish a victim-witness program to ensure a victim-centered approach to any participation in criminal justice proceedings and train prosecutors and judges to proactively seek victim restitution in criminal cases. * Amend legislation to ensure victims are not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, particularly for illegal border crossings or loss of personal identification documents. * Improve anti-trafficking coordination between government agencies, NGOs, and the international donor community by establishing a secretariat within the government’s National Commission on Trafficking in Persons and Forced Labor (The Commission), allocate adequate funding, and ensure that both sub-commissions work jointly on anti-trafficking efforts. * Screen any North Korean workers for signs of trafficking and refer them to appropriate services, in a manner consistent with obligations under United Nations Security Council resolution 2397.
The government increased law enforcement efforts. Article 135 of the criminal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of three to five years’ imprisonment for offenses involving an adult victim and eight to 12 years’ imprisonment for those involving a child victim, which were sufficiently stringent. However, with respect to sex trafficking, by allowing for house arrest in lieu of imprisonment, these penalties were not commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Inconsistent with the definition of trafficking under international law, Article 135 established the use of force, fraud, or coercion as aggravating factors rather than essential elements of the crime. Article 148 (2) of the criminal code addressed “administrative forced labor.” Such offenses involving adult victims were only considered administrative violations for first time offenses; repeated offenses were penalized with a fine or imprisonment of up to two years. Article 148 (2) criminalized all “administrative forced labor” offenses involving children with a fine or up to three years’ imprisonment. Civil society and government contacts alike have noted these provisions, coupled with limited capacity to identify the crime among judicial officials and frontline officers, significantly constrained Uzbekistan’s ability to prosecute and convict labor traffickers. The President signed Uzbekistan’s new Labor Code into law in October 2022, set to take effect in April 2023, which addresses forced labor prohibitions and guarantees for the employment of socially vulnerable populations, including trafficking victims.
The government reported conducting 172 investigations, including 125 for sex trafficking (five ongoing), 16 for labor trafficking (two ongoing), and 31 involving unspecified exploitation of children (two ongoing), compared with 162 total investigations in 2021. The government reported prosecuting 163 defendants, including 106 for sex trafficking (16 ongoing), 13 for forced labor, and 44 for unspecified exploitation of children (four ongoing), compared with 107 prosecutions in 2021. The government reported convicting 157 defendants in 2022 (103 for sex trafficking, 12 for labor trafficking, and 42 unspecified), compared with 154 in 2021. The government did not provide sentencing information. Of the 157 convicted defendants, four individuals were acquitted. Because of a tendency to conflate cases involving “sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16” with sex trafficking and illegal adoption with child exploitation, it is possible some of the cases involving unspecified exploitation of children contained elements inconsistent with international standards.
The Ministry of Interior (MVD) had a division exclusively dedicated to anti-trafficking efforts and the Labor Inspectorate was responsible for conducting inspections, including checks for forced labor indicators. Law enforcement efforts to address labor trafficking were, at times, constrained by gaps in technical capacity, lack of familiarity with existing laws, insufficient evidence gathering procedures, and poor coordination between the labor inspectorate and judicial officials. Some law enforcement officers were hesitant to investigate trafficking crimes due to a perception cases would be too difficult to prosecute. Government officials viewed forced labor as a separate crime from human trafficking, which may have decreased identification of cases, prevented some victims from accessing the services they were entitled to, and caused underreporting of trafficking cases. The government’s requirement for law enforcement to obtain hard evidence to open a trafficking case, noting victim testimony alone was not sufficient, inhibited law enforcement’s ability to fully investigate all trafficking crimes. The government continued to provide trafficking-specific training, seminars, and conferences to police, judges, and other government officials, including the labor inspectorate, and conducted some activities in partnership with international organizations and civil society, including training on victim identification and the NRM. The government allocated 45 million soum ($4,010) to train investigators in 2022.
The Presidential Administration instructed regional hokims (local district, regional, and city administration leaders) to work with state prosecutors on forced labor cases. The government administratively penalized 35 officials for violating labor laws, compared with 65 in 2021; however, the government did not provide information on fines or penalties. The government did not report criminally prosecuting any officials for their alleged complicity in forced labor crimes. Observers reported individuals with political connections were more likely to go unpunished for crimes they committed, including trafficking.
The Prosecutor General’s Office requested the extradition of two traffickers to counterparts in Kazakhstan and one to Russia in 2022. The Uzbekistani Embassy in Malaysia collaborated with Malaysian authorities and INTERPOL to extradite an Uzbekistani trafficker back to Uzbekistan. The government signed cooperation agreements with Belarus, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Türkiye to enhance law enforcement collaboration on transnational crimes, including trafficking.
The government decreased protection efforts. Authorities identified 93 trafficking victims in 2022, compared with 175 in 2021. Of the 93 victims, 81 were sex trafficking victims (80 women and one girl) and 12 were forced labor victims (all men), compared with 120 sex trafficking victims, 33 forced labor victims, and 22 victims of unspecified exploitation in 2021. All sex trafficking victims were Uzbekistani citizens exploited within Uzbekistan, and all forced labor victims were Uzbekistani citizens identified abroad. The government did not identify any foreign national victims but reported foreign victims were entitled to the same benefits as citizens of Uzbekistan. An NGO identified and assisted seven victims (four women as sex trafficking victims and three men as forced labor victims).
The government had SOPs for victim identification and referral, which outlined ministries authorized to make initial victim identification designations and approve victims for receipt of government assistance, after which cases would be referred to local trafficking commissions for final verification of official victim status. Officials authorized to identify trafficking victims could refer victims to either a state-run shelter or NGOs for services. Some officials were not aware of the existing procedures for victim identification and referral. Civil society observers expressed concern the two-step victim verification process in the SOPs was not sufficiently detailed or inclusive of NGO roles and overly bureaucratic in nature. Experts noted the implementation of the SOPs was limited – regional branches of the Subcommittee on Combating Trafficking in Persons had minimal knowledge on the law and crime, in some cases did not want to take responsibility for victim identification, and had an unclear division of labor. Regional governors who chaired trafficking commissions and made the final decision on verification of official victim status did not have dedicated funds to assist victims and therefore were not incentivized to grant such status. The government reported victims could receive government-funded services before obtaining verification of official victim status, but only after preliminary identification from the government’s regional commissions or other agencies responsible for implementing the NRM, and victims could continue to receive more assistance after the regional commissions granted verification of official victim status. Due to insufficient use of formal identification procedures, authorities may have detained some unidentified trafficking victims, including individuals in commercial sex and migrant workers. Some victims were reluctant to contact or cooperate with law enforcement due to distrust in authorities, fear for their personal and familial safety, and social stigmatization. Civil society noted there was a lack of female representation in the regional commissions during the victim identification process, which may have made female victims uncomfortable given social norms. Local officials regularly referred victims who did not wish to pursue a criminal case to NGO offices for assistance. The government screened Uzbekistani migrants leaving and returning to Uzbekistan for trafficking indicators and reported identifying 33 victims through these screenings. The government continued efforts to repatriate Uzbekistani victims from abroad. The governments of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the Kyrgyz Republic established a working group to create a transnational referral mechanism for trafficking victims.
The government reported it referred all 93 identified trafficking victims to care, compared with 175 in 2021. An NGO reported referring 488 victims to services (142 sex trafficking victims and 346 forced labor victims). The government reported 102 victims (61 women sex trafficking victims and 41 men forced labor victims) received services from the government or from government-supported NGOs. In 2022, the government allocated 1.6 billion soum ($142,550) for the Republican Rehabilitation Center, compared with 1.03 billion soum ($91,770) in 2021, and an additional 13 billion soum ($1.16 million) to support activities of other shelters that assisted trafficking victims, compared with 5.5 billion soum ($490,010) in 2021. The government continued to provide in-kind support to local NGOs for the provision of victim assistance, such as food and clothing, and for the second consecutive year, it reported provision of direct funding assistance to some anti-trafficking NGOs – 230 million soum ($20,490), compared with 345 million soum ($30,740) the previous reporting period. The government reported assisting 122 victims in the Republican Rehabilitation Center during the reporting period, compared with 175 victims in 2021. Child victims would be placed in specialized centers, separate from adults. The government also operated centers to assist victims of violence throughout the country, which could include trafficking victims. Observers previously reported concerns some centers did not provide adequate protection. Observers noted victim services and reintegration efforts were underfunded and stressed a need for more trafficking victim shelters, including outside of Tashkent. Civil society observers noted the cumbersome process and ongoing delays in NGO registration, as well as additional requirements that created obstacles to their work and constrained civil society efforts to assist victims and monitor trafficking, including in the cotton harvest. Current law did not explicitly exempt transnational trafficking victims from facing a criminal penalty for illegally crossing international borders, which may have deterred some victims from reporting their traffickers.
Although victims could bring civil suits against traffickers, such instances were rare due to the high cost of legal representation, which was neither provided by the government nor affordable. The law mandated security measures to protect victims and witnesses during investigations but did not require other types of support. Experts previously reported the government did not adequately ensure victims’ protection in court trials, acknowledging victims were verbally attacked and threatened; authorities also allowed perpetrators and victims to enter the courtrooms at the same time. The government noted victims were not obligated to appear in person for preliminary proceedings and could provide testimony via audio or video; however, it did not report making use of such approaches. Observers reported some victims felt pressured and ashamed as court trials were open to the public and held in victims’ communities; due to the lack of safety, victims sometimes refused to testify against traffickers. The government reported 244 victims participated in investigations in 2022, although they were not required to participate to gain access to protection services and none of the witnesses applied for protections. In 2022, courts ordered 70 trafficking victims to receive 539,528,000 soum ($48,070) in restitution (compared with 52 victims and $55,853 in 2021); however, the government did not report whether victims collected any funds.
The government slightly increased prevention efforts. The Commission coordinated anti-trafficking efforts with the Chair of the Senate serving as the National Rapporteur. The Commission was comprised of two subdivisions: the Sub-Commission on Human Trafficking (headed by the Minister of Interior) and the Sub-Commission on Combating Forced Labor (headed by the Minister of Employment and Poverty Reduction). The division of responsibility and lack of full coordination within the Commission contributed to confusion by some officials on what constituted trafficking. The Commission convened three meetings in 2022 and directed the activities of regional commissions in 12 regions, one semi-autonomous republic, and one independent city (Tashkent). Some international observers previously described insufficient coordination and communication between the Commission and civil society partners in the absence of a secretariat structure. The government did not centrally allocate funding for the Commission, which instead required funding contributions from individual member ministries’ budgets; this arrangement reportedly led to overreliance on NGO and international assistance. Authorities continued to conduct public awareness campaigns, some in collaboration with civil society.
Representatives from civil society reported no systemic forced labor for the second consecutive year but noted a small number of scattered instances of forced labor persisted in the annual cotton harvest. The central government continued to maintain oversight of the harvest and conducted awareness campaigns regarding the prohibition on forced labor. Independent labor monitors did not report any interference with their efforts to look for signs of forced labor during the harvest. Some civil society members noted the existence of district-level “forecasts” which can be construed as de facto quotas and create opportunities for coercion. Observers noted that some mahallas and farmers are pressured if they do not gather enough pickers or if their district was not meeting its forecast. Experts reported some cases of forced labor involved perceived threats rather than explicit coercion; there was an expectation and belief that refusal resulted in negative consequences from the mahalla or employers. Many citizens were not aware of their right to refuse to participate in work outside their professional duties. Observers reported clusters did not typically face any penalties from local officials when they violated contract obligations with farmers, such as delay of payments for cotton delivered, and some officials may perceive an obligation to protect the interests of the cluster or reportedly own a cluster. Cotton pickers often did not have contracts or were unaware of their existence, which civil society and international observers agree is a key vulnerability for pickers. Brigade leaders, often from the mahalla where most of the pickers lived, acted as middlepersons and signed contracts with clusters or farmers on behalf of a group of pickers, which could create opportunities for embezzlement according to observers. Media and civil society reports indicated ongoing development of the privatized cluster system inadvertently generated other vulnerabilities, including avenues for private businesses to subject harvest workers to contract violations, loss of bargaining power or choice of cluster-affiliation, coerced cultivation of cotton under threat of land loss, wage irregularities, and forced overtime. Some farmers produced cotton for a cluster without knowing what they would be paid at the end of the harvest due to lack of contracts and sometimes spent more on production than the clusters paid them, increasing the vulnerabilities of farmers and their workers; some clusters reportedly paid less than the government recommended price. The lack of oversight in the contract farming system, where farmers were responsible for hiring their own employees without oversight from the cluster, created additional vulnerabilities. Some authorities reportedly expropriated land formerly leased or owned by individual farmers for the creation of cluster sites without adequately compensating them, increasing their vulnerability to forced labor at those cluster sites. Observers previously noted the absence of a legal framework to ensure oversight of worker contracts, and during the 2022 cotton harvest most seasonal pickers did not appear to have contracts. The government continued its commitment to prohibit child labor in the cotton harvest; while there were isolated reports of children working in the fields, these appeared to have involved children helping their families, such as delivering water to pickers. The government, in coordination with an international organization, conducted anti-trafficking awareness-raising campaigns for pickers in the annual cotton harvest, including on the prevention of child labor and rights of cotton pickers. The government increased the pay per kilogram of cotton by 25 percent for the 2022 harvest. Observers noted government officials promptly responded, including with inspections, when cases of forced labor were reported. The presidential administration instructed regional khokims in September 2022 to work with state prosecutors on any forced labor cases.
The government continued to allow independent monitoring of the cotton harvest for child and forced labor, with unimpeded access to the cotton fields for observations and to interview laborers. The government continued to issue official monitoring access permits to civil society groups. The State Labor Inspectorate employed 344 inspectors that could impose administrative penalties. The government did not report data on investigations of forced labor allegations or monitoring farms and clusters during the 2022 cotton harvest, compared with 128 investigations and monitoring of more than 13,419 farms and privatized cotton clusters in 2021. The ILO concluded its Third-Party Monitoring project of the cotton harvest after the 2021 harvest and delivered its monitoring methodology to the government and civil society. The government did not provide updates on user assessments of the Cotton Harvest Feedback Mechanism for the last two harvests. Media, including state media outlets, continued to report on forced labor practices and violations, generally without penalization or censorship; however, the supreme court upheld the six-and-a-half-year prison sentence of a high-profile blogger subjected to politically motivated arrest after reporting on issues such as corruption and farmers’ rights. Observers noted restrictions in freedom of association, including the harassment of the only democratically elected trade union in the country and barriers to workers engaging in collective bargaining.
Some civil society members reported the central government continued to set silk cocoon production quotas and claimed that forced and coercive labor practices exist in the sector. NGO accounts of forced labor in the silk cocoon harvest alleged direct local government involvement and that some silk cocoon clusters forced farmers to sign compulsory contracts, requiring them to provide a specific amount of silk cocoons for every hectare of land – farmers who failed to produce the required quota risked land expropriation. In 2021, the government, in cooperation with an international organization, carried out a survey of the silk cocoon industry and reported no systemic forced labor and no children in the production of silkworms; however, production is usually home-based and done by families, reportedly including children, which continued to make this industry difficult to monitor. Half of the population of Uzbekistan worked in the informal sector; civil society has noted this includes the cotton and silk sectors, which makes it difficult for independent observers to monitor social protections and the application of labor regulations. It also creates vulnerabilities for workers, including a lack of contracts. Media reported state employees were forced to go door to door to collect votes for local project funding. The same media report noted the government was investigating these reports. The government, in cooperation with an international organization, carried out a survey of the construction sector and reported no evidence of systemic forced labor but identified vulnerabilities, such as a large number of informal workers. The government encouraged ministers to use a special fund under the Minister of Employment and Poverty Reduction to recruit unemployed individuals for public works – 206.1 billion soum ($18.36 million) was allocated in 2022, compared with 243.3 billion soum ($21.68 million) in 2021.
The government continued to provide support to labor migrants abroad, including forced labor victims, and allocated a budget of 38.8 billion soum ($3.46 million), an increase from 15.5 billion soum ($1.38 million) in 2021. Uzbekistan’s Agency for External Labor Migration provided financial, social, and legal assistance to vulnerable migrants in destination countries and assistance in finding employment for returning migrants. In 2022, the agency established 20 foreign migration agencies in Russia and four in Kazakhstan and Türkiye. The agency conducted pre-departure consultations with migrant workers, through which it provided information on primary destination countries’ labor and immigration laws, especially Russia and Kazakhstan; issued some prospective migrant workers health insurance; and provided micro-loans to cover basic expenses such as transportation and insurance. Additionally, the government, in cooperation with an NGO, provided information and support for labor migrants on safe work abroad and their rights. The Agency for External Labor Migration runs 26 representative offices in Russia, four in Kazakhstan, and one in Türkiye, Republic of Korea, and Japan. The government maintained agreements to enhance coordination on labor migration with Russia, Kazakhstan, Türkiye, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, and Japan. Labor recruitment laws in Uzbekistan prohibited charging workers recruitment fees; however, the government did not report on enforcement of this ban.
Labor inspectors were not empowered to bring criminal charges for first time violations of the law against forced labor and did not have the authority to refer victims to services. International observers noted some inspectors also demonstrated limited comfort with their administrative enforcement mandate. Contacts noted the Labor Inspectorate was underfunded, understaffed, and had high turnover. The Labor Inspectorate’s inability to conduct unannounced inspections and refer victims to services without first referring them to law enforcement hampered their ability to identify and assist potential victims, and hindered effective implementation of labor laws.
The MVD operated a hotline and the Commission maintained a website to identify human trafficking victims and refer them to services. The hotline received 160 calls in 2022 (compared with 840 in 2021); the MVD received 471 additional appeals from other sources, 165 of which led to criminal investigations (compared with 195 in 2021). The government did not provide information about the number of victims assisted as a result of hotline calls. Observers noted most pickers in the cotton harvest were not aware of any government hotline to report forced labor. The government operated a 24-hour hotline that provided Uzbekistani labor migrants with legal advice, advised them of their rights, and directed them to the nearest consulate for assistance. An NGO operated a widely publicized 24/7 anti-trafficking hotline in 13 regional centers. The government did not conduct efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government reported providing anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.
TRAFFICKING PROFILE: As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit Uzbekistani victims domestically and abroad, and some foreign nationals may be vulnerable to trafficking within Uzbekistan. While international observers agree the government has successfully abolished systemic forced labor in the annual cotton harvest, some civil society observers have reported isolated instances of forced labor from local officials. The majority of pickers that participated in the most recent cotton harvest were unemployed women from rural areas, often without contracts, and are vulnerable to coercion that increases forced labor risks. Private companies in some regions mobilize employees for the harvest. Some civil society activists allege that farmers are forced to vacate and remit their land to private cotton operators, including in the cluster sites established on their former land. This could make them vulnerable to forced labor due to disruption of livelihoods and ensuing economic hardships.
Some civil society observers have reported that some local officials provide silkworms to farmers and force them to sign contracts stating they will agree to cultivate silk cocoons in furtherance of production quotas. International observers noted the majority of farmers do not have written contracts with silk clusters, which makes them vulnerable to forced labor. Despite a 2018 government prohibition on the practice, some local officials continue to force teachers, students (including children), private businesses employees, and others to work in other forms of non-cotton agriculture and to clean parks, streets, and buildings. Officials occasionally cast these compulsory tasks as part of Uzbekistan’s traditional Hashar system, under which community members are expected to perform voluntary work for communal benefit. Due to high levels of informal employment, which include lack of contracts, individuals in the construction sector are vulnerable to trafficking. Criminalization of same-sex relationships between men makes some members of Uzbekistan’s LGBTQI+ communities vulnerable to police abuse, extortion, and coercion into pornography and informant roles; widespread social stigma and discrimination against LGBTQI+ individuals also compound their vulnerability to family-brokered forced marriages that may feature corollary sex trafficking or forced labor indicators. Children in institutions are vulnerable to sex trafficking. According to 2021 data from international experts, 24 percent of children in Uzbekistan live in poverty and many work to help their families, facing high risk for trafficking. Traffickers exploit Uzbekistani nationals domestically in brothels, clubs, and private residences. North Korean nationals working in Uzbekistan may be operating under exploitative working conditions and display multiple indicators of forced labor.
Traffickers exploit Uzbekistani nationals in sex trafficking and forced labor in the Middle East, including in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates; in Europe, including Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Moldova, Russia, and Türkiye; and in Central, South, and East Asia, including in Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand, respectively. Uzbekistani nationals are subjected to forced labor in these regions in the construction, transportation, oil and gas, agricultural, retail, and food sectors. Uzbekistani nationals are subjected to forced criminality in cyber scam operations and forced labor in cryptocurrency mining in Burma. Hundreds of thousands of Uzbekistani migrant workers are at elevated risk of trafficking in Russia, where employers and authorities charge high work permit fees that catalyze debt-based coercion, subject them to poor living and working conditions, and garnish or withhold their wages; these vulnerabilities are often compounded by Russian employers’ failure to register Uzbekistani migrant workers with the relevant authorities. More than half of Uzbekistani migrant workers reportedly forego the complex bureaucratic processes required to obtain proper documentation, exacerbating their vulnerability within the system. Russia continues to attract the vast majority of Uzbekistani labor migrants. Due to Russia’s war against Ukraine, many Uzbekistani labor migrants were forced to leave Russia due to job loss resulting from economic disruptions and faced forced conscription into military service. Uzbekistani labor migrants, particularly inmates in Russian prisons, are vulnerable to forced recruitment to fight in Russia’s war against Ukraine. Uzbekistani men who traveled to Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to fight alongside or seek employment within armed groups brought their families with them, at times under deception. The Uzbekistani citizens left in these conflict zones, including children, may be at risk of trafficking, including in camps in Syria. Uzbekistani children in these camps are at risk of recruitment by armed groups.