Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Department of State Releases 2005 Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment

06 March 2006

The Government of Armenia has made modest progress in its efforts to combat trafficking; a number of planned government initiatives have yet to be fully implemented. Armenian officials did begin to implement elements of the National Action Plan and increased the number of prosecutions under the anti-trafficking statute, but the government's record on victim protection remained mixed. Regrettably, the government did not take any proactive steps to address allegations of trafficking-related governmental complicity and corruption.

Government officials appeared in various media to provide interviews and to address the dangers of trafficking; both the frequency and effectiveness of anti-trafficking programming increased. During the first 10 months of 2005, nine criminal cases were initiated under the anti-trafficking statute, with additional cases filed in November and December. The rate of law enforcement referrals to shelters appears to be on the rise; however this number remains disproportionately low with only thirteen victim referrals in 2005, nine of which accepted shelter and assistance. Although prosecutors' awareness of trafficking improved, the government made limited progress in training the judicial sector. Poor treatment of a victim during a recent court proceeding further illustrated the urgent need for sensitivity training to reduce victim-blaming and stigmatization in Armenia. Allegations of possible prosecutorial and border guard complicity in trafficking remain uninvestigated by the government. Notably, a government official, who has been frequently criticized by victims and NGOs for trafficking complacency, remains in his position within the Prosecutor General's anti-trafficking task force. The accusations made against this government official are widespread ( http://www.usa.am/news/2006/february/news020206_4.html).

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