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Counter-Trafficking Policy and Immigrant Rights in Turkey

Turkey has long been a transit site for irregular migration, and policy makers and advocates have stressed the vulnerability of many of these irregular migrants to human trafficking. The Turkish government increased its anti-trafficking efforts in the early 2000s, but these efforts may in fact be increasing immigrants’ vulnerability to trafficking. Using data from fieldwork among NGOs and government officials and analyses of laws and policy reports, we analyze the changing legal terrain and shifting migration flows into Turkey. We argue that recent counter-trafficking policies designed to curb human trafficking may in fact be making immigrants more vulnerable to traffickers. Our findings inform the labor exploitation theoretical framework of human trafficking that we proposed in earlier research.

Counter-Trafficking Policy and Immigrant Rights in Turkey
333 Syrian immigrants, seeking to go to European countries on a merchant vessel, were caught in an operation of Mediterranean Sea Region Turkish Coast Guard, offshore Turkey’s southern Mersin province. Turkish Coast Guard Mediterranean Sea Region / Anadol
 

Introduction

 

Empirical Studies of Human Trafficking

The concept of human trafficking has evolved in both scholarship and activist/policy realms to mean very different things, leading to confusion if not properly specified. The United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (commonly known as the Palermo Protocol) defines human trafficking as:

… the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.1

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