Human Trafficking International Expert in Armenia

Recently Anti-trafficking working group (WG) members had a meeting with an international expert Liliana Sorrentino. The main purpose of her arrival was to evaluate the efficiency of combating against human trafficking and exploitation and to see what challenges Armenia has in near future.

Liliana Sorrentino is an international expert, having 15 years of experience in human trafficking, human rights and gender affairs spheres, who has worked in several European and CIS countries. She has published several works concerning to discovering and evaluating gaps of above mentioned topics.

V. Kajoyan (Head of working group) assured, that the meeting was to be practical and useful for everyone. During mutual acquaintance the participants briefly presented their researches on combating against human trafficking, which was followed by expert’s questions connected to combating human trafficking in nearest future.

The most discussed question was “Trafficking and its problems in Armenia”.  Responding to the asked question A. Grigoryan (Representative of Investigative Committee of RA) presented the situation in Armenia, as a problem highlighting the cooperation between law enforcement agencies of the countries. Particularly, mentioning that if all problems connected to Russian Federation are resolved through mutual cooperation, the same cannot be said about Turkey. The absence of Turkey-Armenia diplomatic relations hinders cooperation between Armenian and Turkish law enforcement agencies. Turkey is and remains the destination country of sexual exploitation for Armenian citizens, so the need for such cooperation is vital.

Continuing the speech, Victoria Avakova ( Representative of UMCOR Armenia NGO) noted that criminal cases incited in different countries take long time and during the investigation process the law enforcers do not allow the victims, having RA citizenship to be back to Armenia, as well as they do not organize the victims’ provision of necessary assistance.

E. Shatvoryan (Representative of “Hope and Help” NGO) also pointed out that organizing the return of victims from other countries is a very serious and difficult issue, and for the solution of the problem he anticipated the support of international structures.

A. Makaryan (Representative of Union of Employers) raised the issue of absence of the term “Forced Labor” in Article 132 of Criminal Code, and according to her this leads to an incomplete interpretation of the issue.

A. Harutyunyan (President of “Association of Audio-Visual Reporters” NGO) referred to the problem of recruiting trafficking victims via internet, meanwhile mentioning that fortunately we do not have such cases in Armenia.

A. Harutyunyan also referred to possible media cooperation problem on international scale. Particularly, in the absence of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey, this cooperation could greatly contribute to the identification and return of victims.

L. Hakobyan (Secretary Anti-trafficking WG) pointed the importance of solving the problem of trafficking victims through social networks. During her speech she mentioned that recently she had participated in an international conference where was expressed serious concern highlighting that Internet monitoring is not feasible yet but traffickers actively use these tools.

Afterward, the expert spoke about the importance of the labor inspection while trafficking victims’ identification. She also mentioned about the lack of it in Armenia.

S. Shahumyan (Representative of RA Labor Ministry) said that for a long time the problem of existence of inspector has not solved yet and they cannot fully organize the function of detecting trafficking victims. At the same time he hoped that this issue will soon be solved positively.

E. Virapyan (Representative of RA Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs) referring to the issue mentioned that there would be needed corrections and additions after implementation of the law. She referred to the problem connected to minor trafficking victims. Due to current RA law trafficking minor victim does not have right of getting money till the age of adulthood. Neither his parents nor guardians can get the money instead of him. It turns out that the victim should wait for years to get that money, even though he/she needs it right that time.

During the meeting everyone mentioned achievements of Armenia: five years constantly being in Tier 1 group counties according to US Department’s annual TIP (Trafficking in Persons) report. Nevertheless everyone agrees that there are still a lot to do while combating human trafficking by always improving combating activities.

L. Sorrentino expressed her gratitude to the participants and informed that there will be separate meetings with the representatives of state, non-governmental organizations and media, based on which results will be the Report of monitoring conducted in Armenia. Worth to mention that the Report will also take place on website in the section of Reports.

The meeting was organized by the cooperation of International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Anti-trafficking working group in Armenia.

The photos of press conference are available here.