STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR VAHRAM KAZHOYAN,
At the conference “Ten years of implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings: impact and challenges ahead”
Meeting of National Anti-Trafficking Co-ordinators and Rapporteurs
Co-organised by the Council of Europe and OSCE
Palais de l’Europe, Strasbourg, 22-23 May 2018
Dear Madame Nestorova,
Dear Madame Jarbusinova,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to begin with congratulating all of us on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of entry into force of one of the most significant legal instruments that approaches the trafficking in human beings from a human rights perspective,clearly definingthe latter as being a violation of human rights and an offence to the dignity and integrity of the human being. Today with the current migration crises in the world and the changing nature of human trafficking trends it becomes extremely important to use all the instruments at our disposal in intensifying cooperation and coordinating our steps aimed at forming a network of modern-day freedom conductors fighting against trafficking and supporting its victims.
During the last 10 years we have succeeded in our efforts aimed at combating trafficking due to the monitoring system supervising the implementation of our joint obligations.
Human trafficking trends have changed in recent years, compared to previous years when primarily Armenian women were trafficked for sexual exploitation. Currently, the internal trafficking of women for sexual exploitation and men for forced labor has increased compared to previous years.
Activities aimed at fighting human trafficking in Armenia are coordinated by the Inter-Ministerial Council on Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings and Exploitationheaded by the Deputy Prime Minister. Between the Council sessions, the International Organizations and Human Rights Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs carries out the management of activities of the Council’s Working Group, with the purpose of setting the policies and coordination of activities conducted by all stakeholders in the field.
Apart from the governmental ministries and agencies, representatives of all non-governmental and international organizations and social partners involved in the anti-trafficking activities, actively participate in the works of the Council and Working Group. It has to be mentioned that each and every member of the Working Group have equal right and responsibilities, regardless of the entity they represent. The Working Group submits annual reports to the Council on the implemented activities according to the National Action Plan timetable. After the adoption by the Council, the reports are approved by the Government and then posted on the Government official webpage. As necessary, special sub-groups are being established with a view to discussing specific issues that require detailed examination, and presenting expert opinion.
At policy level, starting from 2004, Armenia has adopted five National tri-annual Action Plans (NAP). Currently, the fifth NAP for the period of 2016-2018 is underway.The WG is currently in the process of elaborating the sixth National Action Plan for the period of 2019-2021.
In order to bring Armenia’s legislation in conformity with the requirements of Palermo Protocol, the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and other international commitments, the Law on “Identification and Support to Persons Subjected to Trafficking in Human Beings and Exploitation” were adopted, as well as 7 by-laws aiming to ensure its implementation.
The law regulates procedures for identifying and supporting persons subjected to trafficking or exploitation, including foreigners and stateless persons, providing them with relevant residence status and safe return. The identification of victims and assistance provided to them is not conditioned by their cooperation with the law enforcement. The assistance includes also a lump-sum monetary compensation provided by the State.
One of the important new features of the procedure for identification of victims of THB, which was introduced by the new Law, was the establishment of the Commission on identification of victims of trafficking in human beings and exploitation as a single body to confirm the status of the victim of human trafficking, which is comprised of both state law enforcement and social partners on one hand and NGOs providing assistance on the other hand.It means that, any time that central government or local self-government bodies suspect that a person with whom they are dealing may be a victim of trafficking or exploitation, theyrefer the person to the Identification Commission.
The second very important point – the adoption of the Identification Law cancelled and replaced the National Referral Mechanism for Victims of Human Trafficking adopted in 2008 and re-arranged the identification procedure for trafficked persons. The changes were made following the Council of Europe GRETA’s first evaluation report, recommendations of the OSCE delegation that visited Armenia and our partners from the US Department of State, and UN human rights monitoring bodies. Currently, in accordance with the new Law, victim identification is carried out in two stages: pre-identification and identification, it is totally de-linked from criminal proceedings and in no way preconditioned by the victim’s cooperation with the law enforcement.
Multi-agency approach is a key of our success on all levels and all stages of victim identification, referral, assistance and reintegration as well as in case of organizing victims’ repatriation and safe return. Victims’ needs and interests are the basesfor the protection, whereasthe restoration of their rights are the main goals of this cooperation.
This has become possible first and foremost due to the Political will of the Authorities. Combatting human trafficking is one of the key priorities for the Armenian Government.