Every Friday, 40 women from Vanadzor take a
bus to Turkey. Half of them do not return.
Some of the women become victims of human
trafficking there, according to the
President of the Association of Audio-Visual
Journalists Arzuman Harutyunyan. As part of
a Trafficking Awareness Campaign program he
uses a special information web portal, to
raise public awareness of the issue. (see
Stepan Vardanyants, chief of the Second
Division of the Police Department against
Organized Crime, says that the real number
of Armenians who are trafficked in Turkey is
being hidden for political reasons.
panel said Armenia has a
human trafficking problem
Numerous investigations in recent years have
shown that, for purposes of sexual
exploitation, women from Armenia are mainly
taken to Turkey and the United Arab Emirates
(UAE), while labor exploitation mainly
occurs in Russia.
According to the Armenian Embassy in the UAE,
only a few dozen Armenian women are
currently being subjected to sexual
exploitation in that country. Others say the
true figure is far higher.
A “well-paid job” is very often the bait
used to persuade women in difficult social
situations to travel abroad. State and
independent representatives who are waging a
struggle against trafficking avoid citing
specific trafficking figures for Armenia,
relying instead on the number of court cases
involving this crime.
In the first nine months of 2006, 33
criminal cases were instituted in Armenia in
connection with sexual and labor
exploitation of people, of which nine were
under Article 132 of the Penal Code – a new
law that provides for prison sentences of
between four and six years.
This article is one of the steps taken by
Armenia to combat human trafficking in
recent years, along with other measures such
as raising public awareness and bringing
national legislation into line with
The reform, along with grants and programs
to reduce trafficking, were largely the
product of the 2002 U.S. Department of State
Trafficking in Persons report to Congress.
According to the 2002 report, Armenia ranked
among the third-class of countries in
tackling the problem. This meant that
trafficking was not given sufficient
attention by the Government and the sphere
was completely uncontrolled.
“The government failed to vigorously
investigate and prosecute ongoing and
widespread allegations of public officials'
complicity in trafficking,” the report of
the U.S. Department of State reads.
“Accusatory and tactless attitudes towards
trafficking victims continue to remain
problematic among officials in Armenia,
especially in the judiciary.”
In reply to this report, Armenia’s Prime
Minister ordered an interdepartmental
commission to study the trafficking problem
and make proposals to address it.
“There is no country in the world that can
boast of having completely solved the
problem of trafficking. But the US
Government is concerned over the state of
the anti-trafficking struggle in Armenia, as
Armenia is in our list of second-level
countries, with a risk of joining the third
level countries,” said Julie Finley, the US
Ambassador to the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe, during
discussions in Yerevan this week on national
strategies and action plans to combat
However, members of the interdepartmental
commission say the program will help to
“control” the problem.
Experts say within the scope of the program,
continuous works will be carried out to
raise public awareness of the problem.
Specialists working at different ministries
and structures involved in the fight against
trafficking will have a chance to get
training. Besides, plans are being made to
improve migration policy and legislation.
“Armenia is in the leading position in the
region as far as the struggle against
trafficking is concerned, since in
neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan they
haven’t even accomplished legislative
reforms yet,” the Interdepartmental
Anti-Trafficking Commission Chairman Valery
The governments of Norway and the
Netherlands allocated to Armenia a grant of
$650,000 for anti-trafficking reforms,
legislation, awareness programs, as well as
for a telephone hotline service in
Specialists in the field say that another $1
million will be necessary for the
development and implementation of a second
program for 2007-2009 that would make
efforts to tackle the problem more apparent.