U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Armenia
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||5 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Armenia, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d874c.html [accessed 28 November 2014]|
Armenia (Tier 2 Watch List)
Armenia is a major source and, to a lesser extent, a transit and destination country for women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation largely to the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and Turkey. Traffickers, many of them women, route victims directly into Dubai or through Moscow. Traffickers also route victims to Turkey through Georgia via bus. Profits derived from the trafficking of Armenian victims reportedly increased dramatically from the previous year.
The Government of Armenia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Armenia is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a second consecutive year because of its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts over the past year, particularly in the areas of enforcement, trafficking-related corruption, and victim protection. While the government increased implementation of its anti-trafficking law, it failed to impose significant penalties for convicted traffickers. The government failed to vigorously investigate and prosecute ongoing and widespread allegations of public officials' complicity in trafficking. Victim protection efforts remained in early, formative stages. Victim-blaming and lack of sensitivity for victims remain a problem among Armenian officials, particularly in the judiciary.
In 2005, the Government of Armenia increased the use of the 2003 anti-trafficking statute under Article 132, which prohibits trafficking in persons for forced labor and sexual exploitation. However, many courts overturned convictions handed down under Article 132, and reduced sentences by converting the charges into lesser pimping charges. The government continued to apply other criminal codes to about half of its trafficking cases in 2005. During the reporting period, the government investigated 30 trafficking cases, resulting in 14 prosecutions and 17 convictions. While Article 132 provides for longer sentences, penalties actually imposed continue to be insufficient and not commensurate with those for other equally grave crimes in Armenia. During the reporting period, only a few convictions resulted in actual imprisonment; the remaining offenders received suspended sentences, corrective labor and fines. Lack of public confidence and allegations of official complicity continued to hurt the credibility of the government's anti-trafficking efforts. The government established a special task force in February 2006 to investigate widespread allegations against an official within the Prosecutor General's anti-trafficking unit. However, after a cursory investigation, this task force found no evidence of any wrongdoing. The government failed to provide direct training to educate prosecutors and judges on its new trafficking law, although it distributed to police practical guidelines on methods to investigate trafficking cases.
The Armenian Government continued to rely on international organizations and NGOs to provide protection and assistance to trafficking victims; these non-governmental groups cited good cooperation with government officials. Victim assistance programs reportedly sheltered 16 victims in 2005, the majority referred by Armenian officials. Notably, the police took the initiative to invite NGOs to screen and interview four suspected trafficking victims. A formalized screening and referral mechanism has yet to be developed or implemented among law enforcement officials. Some victims continue to receive poor treatment during court cases, reducing the likelihood of future victims willing to come forward to testify against their traffickers.
In 2005, official recognition and acknowledgment of trafficking in Armenia improved and the government began to implement its January 2004 National Action Plan (NAP). Government officials made public appeals to help raise awareness about trafficking. The government joined UNDP in raising awareness about trafficking. The Department for Migration and Refugees (DMR) included trafficking information in its outreach activities through the distribution of brochures and visits to rural regions in Armenia. The DMR also developed a draft law on regulating labor migration, to include licensing for employment agencies that recruit people for jobs abroad. The government continued to provide housing to vulnerable children released from Armenian orphanages.