Embassy News 2011
Trafficking in Persons Report 2011 on Armenia
ARMENIA (Tier 2)
Armenia is a source country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking, as well as a source and destination country for women subjected to forced labor, and a source country for men subjected to forced labor. Women and girls from Armenia are subjected to sex trafficking in Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey. Armenian men and women are subjected to forced labor in Russia, while Armenian women are subjected to forced labor in Turkey. Armenian boys are subjected to forced labor and Armenian women and girls are found in sex trafficking within the country. Women from Russia are subjected to forced labor in Armenia.
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. In 2010, the government provided partial funding for an NGO-run shelter for victims of trafficking and pursued partnerships with NGOs to provide training to hundreds of officials. The government continued to ensure that all convicted traffickers were appropriately sentenced and that those sentences were enforced. In March 2011, the government enacted amendments to the Criminal Code that further strengthened its anti-trafficking statutes. However, of particular concern was a precipitous drop in the number of victims identified during the year, as well as the absence of investigations of forced labor offenses.
Recommendations for Armenia: Undertake more vigorous efforts to identify victims of forced labor and to investigate and prosecute labor trafficking offenses; continue to provide and expand funding for NGOs that provide victim assistance and ensure that all funding allocated for anti-trafficking programs and victim assistance is spent on designated programs; increase the number of victims referred to NGO service providers for assistance; consider partnerships with NGOs that would allow them to regularly assist law enforcement with the victim identification process; improve efforts to protect victims who consent to serve as witnesses in prosecutions; continue to work to ensure that victims who are unable to assist in prosecutions have access to services and protection; investigate and prosecute government officials suspected of trafficking-related complicity and convict and punish complicit officials; continue to ensure that victims are provided with legally mandated assistance (medical, legal, primary needs, and shelter) at all stages of the victim assistance process; continue to ensure a majority of convicted trafficking offenders serve time in prison; and continue efforts to raise public awareness about both sex and labor trafficking.
The Armenian government demonstrated some progress in its law enforcement efforts against human trafficking during the reporting period. Armenia prohibits both sex trafficking and labor trafficking through Articles 132 and 132-2 of its Criminal Code, which prescribe penalties of five to 15 years' imprisonment – penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In amendments to the Criminal Code in March 2011, Armenia strengthened its anti-trafficking statutes; the amendments increased the amount of time a trafficking offender must serve before being eligible for an early release, introduced a separate article specifically prohibiting trafficking of children and persons with mental disabilities, and introduced new punitive sanctions against traffickers that deprive them of the right of employment in certain occupations or practice certain activities for up to three years. The government investigated 15 sex trafficking and no labor trafficking cases in 2010, compared with nine sex trafficking and six labor trafficking cases in 2009. During 2010, Armenian courts prosecuted four new cases against six individuals for sex trafficking offenses and none for labor trafficking offenses. Armenian courts continued to prosecute an additional nine defendants whose cases had begun in previous years. The government convicted five trafficking offenders in 2010 – including four individuals for sex trafficking and one for labor trafficking – down from 11 convictions in 2009. All five convicted offenders in 2010 were given sentences ranging from three to nine years' imprisonment; no traffickers received suspended sentences, and no traffickers were granted early release from prison in 2010. The Armenian government sustained partnerships with anti-trafficking NGOs, international organizations, and foreign governments to provide anti-trafficking training to hundreds of government officials including police, border guards, and members of the judicial system. An Armenian court convicted and sentenced to nine years' imprisonment a former deputy principal of a state-run special needs school who, in 2008, forced two students to beg. There were no new reports of government officials' complicity in trafficking during 2010.
The Government of Armenia demonstrated modest progress in its efforts to identify and provide protection to victims of trafficking during the reporting period. The government provided partial funding for an NGO-run shelter which assisted 22 victims of trafficking in 2010, providing $17,000 for lease of the facility's space. Victims were not detained at the shelter. Although the government spent less than a fourth of the money initially allocated for victim protection and assistance in 2010, it was an improvement over 2009 when it failed to spend any of the funding allocated for victim assistance. In 2010, at least five trafficking victims received free medical assistance from the government, an increase compared with two victims receiving free medical assistance in 2009. In partnership with NGOs, the government informed trafficking victims of the social benefits available to them and provided assistance in applying for those benefits. In February 2011, the government added victims of trafficking to the list of vulnerable persons eligible for extra employment assistance. The government officially identified 19 new sex trafficking victims in 2010 and referred 12 of them to NGOs for assistance, compared with 60 victims of trafficking identified and 22 referred to NGOs in 2009; no victims of forced labor or foreign victims of international trafficking were identified by the government in 2010. Foreign-funded NGOs assisted 16 new victims during 2010, including the 12 sex trafficking victims referred to them by the government as mentioned above, compared with 26 victims identified and assisted in 2009. Trafficking victims were encouraged to cooperate with law enforcement officials; as in 2009, all identified victims voluntarily assisted police with trafficking investigations. Although NGOs reported improved attitudes toward victims by judges, they also reported that the rights of child witnesses were not always protected during trial and police did not consistently alert NGOs when victims were identified. By law, the government exempted trafficking victims from criminal prosecution for any unlawful acts they may have committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The government also allowed victims to stay in the country through temporary residency permits and obtain temporary employment. The lack of appropriate protections for victims who provide testimony continued to be an issue of concern; this may have hampered Armenia's prosecution efforts.
The Armenian government increased its trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. In 2010, the government provided funding for two trafficking awareness television programs and cooperated with NGOs and international organizations to educate students and teachers across the country about the dangers of trafficking. The Ministry of Education incorporated anti-trafficking awareness materials developed and produced by NGOs and international organizations into the school curriculum for thousands of students. In September 2010, Armenia adopted its third National Plan of Action addressing trafficking in persons, spanning 2010-2012. The government took action to reduce demand for commercial sex by amending the Criminal Code to introduce punishments specifically for those who use the services of a victim of exploitation.