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U.S. State Department: Armenia's Efforts Against Trafficking Show Improvement but Fall Short

US State Department

The U.S. State Department's 2024 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report has highlighted both progress and ongoing challenges in Armenia's fight against human trafficking. Despite significant efforts, Armenia still does not fully meet the minimum standards for eliminating trafficking, keeping the country on Tier 2 status.

The report acknowledges that the Armenian government has increased its efforts compared to the previous year. Key improvements include:

Human Trafficking

- Investigation and Prosecution: There was an increase in the number of investigations and prosecutions of suspected traffickers.

- Victim Identification: The government identified 25 victims of trafficking in 2023, up from six in 2022. These victims included individuals exploited in both sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

- Resource Allocation: More resources were allocated for victim protection, including funding for NGO-run shelters. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) published a guide for social workers to identify victims and developed informational leaflets on available state resources.

- Prevention Efforts: The government increased its focus on prevention and sought input from survivors to identify gaps in victim services.

However, the report also notes several areas where the Armenian government has not met the minimum standards:

- Screening and Identification: First responders did not consistently screen vulnerable populations for trafficking indicators.

- Prosecution Issues: Some cases were dropped or reclassified due to a lack of evidence or an overreliance on victim testimony without corroborating evidence.

- Victim-Centered Approach: Law enforcement and judicial processes did not always adopt a victim-centered approach. There was also a lack of implementation of victim-centered policies and assistance measures for victim-witnesses.

- Victim Assistance: While the government funded victim assistance and reintegration programs, these efforts were sometimes insufficient to fully meet victims' needs.

Victim Demographics and Exploitation

The 25 identified victims in 2023 included:

- Gender and Age: 10 women, nine men, three girls, and three boys.

- Disabilities: Three victims had disabilities.

- Type of Trafficking: Seven victims were exploited in sex trafficking, while 18 were exploited in labor trafficking.

The report highlights that both domestic and foreign victims are exploited in Armenia, and Armenian victims are also trafficked abroad. Specific issues include:

- Exploitation of Migrants: Armenian migrants seeking employment in Russia are often exploited through recruitment fraud and debt bondage by labor brokers.

- Domestic Exploitation: Armenian women are subjected to sex and labor trafficking, including forced begging. Iranian and Indian migrants working in Armenia's informal sector are vulnerable to forced labor.

- Child Exploitation: Children are forced to beg or sell items on the street and are also exploited in agriculture, construction, and service provision. Those in state childcare institutions and children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable.

Traffickers are increasingly using social media to recruit victims, adding a modern dimension to the exploitation methods.

The more than 100,000 forcibly displaced persons and refugees from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) are particularly vulnerable to trafficking due to high levels of unemployment and instability.

While Armenia has made notable strides in combating human trafficking, significant challenges remain. The government's ongoing efforts to improve its response, protect victims, and prevent trafficking are crucial.


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