The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Office in Baku on September 29th signed a grant agreement to collaborate on combating trafficking in persons and improving access to the justice system in Azerbaijan. Michael Greene, USAID Azerbaijan Mission Director, and Ambassador Koray Targay, Head of OSCE Office in Baku, signed the agreement.
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 non-governmental officials in assisting 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 in providing free legal assistance and information to the public. The grant agreement will finance these activities from October 2011 to September 2013.
U.S Ambassador Matthew Bryza and Azerbaijan Chief of the Office on Struggle Against Human Trafficking Shikhaliyev Javad Suleyman attended the ceremony. Ambassador 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.” He 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 trafficking in persons in Azerbaijan.
“USAID’s support for these two projects will enable the Government of Azerbaijan to improve its compliance with OSCE commitments,” said Ambassador Koray Targay. “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.”