ARMENIA (TIER 2) [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]
Armenia is primarily a source country for women and girls trafficked to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Armenian men and women are trafficked to Russia for the purpose of forced labor. NGOs reported that Armenian women were also trafficked to Turkey for the purpose of forced labor. Women from Ukraine and Russia are trafficked to Armenia for the purpose of forced labor. Victims trafficked to the UAE usually fly to Dubai from Yerevan or via cities in Russia; the trafficking route to Turkey is generally via bus through Georgia. A small number of Armenian girls and boys are trafficked internally for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced begging.
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 December 2008, the government reopened its investigation into a well-documented 2006 case in which a convicted trafficker was released from prison and escaped the country allegedly with the assistance of various government officials; this was an important step forward and results of this investigation warrant future monitoring. The government also allocated $55,000 to partially fund an NGO-run trafficking shelter in 2009. In November 2008, the government began implementing its national referral mechanism for victims. Although these efforts demonstrated genuine progress over the reporting period, victim assistance remained a challenge -- especially in the provision of long-term assistance and social reintegration -- and the number of traffickers convicted decreased.
Recommendations for Armenia: Continue to address trafficking-related corruption through the vigorous investigation, prosecution, and conviction of complicit officials; improve the new national victim-referral mechanism, ensuring that victims are provided with legally mandated assistance (medical, legal, primary needs, and shelter) at all three stages of the victim assistance process that is not conditioned on victims' cooperation with law enforcement investigations; ensure that police and law enforcement receive trafficking-specific investigative training to increase the number of traffickers who are prosecuted and successfully convicted; continue to ensure a majority of convicted traffickers serve time in prison; ensure that all funding allocated for anti-trafficking programs and victim assistance is spent on designated programs; increase the number of victims identified and referred for assistance; and continue efforts to raise awareness about both sex and labor trafficking.
A lack of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey hampered Armenia’s ability to investigate the trafficking of Armenian nationals to Turkey; however, police were in contact with Turkish law enforcement through Interpol in an attempt to investigate trafficking from Armenia. During the reporting period, Armenia waited for Turkey to respond to a repatriation request for an identified Armenian trafficking victim in the Turkish region of Antalia.