Trafficking still remains a problem in Armenia. Iravaban.net talked about the regulatory framework of trafficking and statistics to the president of “Hope and Help” in Armenia Yenok Shatvoryan.
-What is the latest statistics of trafficking or modern slavery in Armenia?
-Years ago the majority of cases were revealed by non-governmental organizations. Nowadays pure majority of cases are revealed by the police, which is a good result. So the police should talk about the statistics.
-On the whole the cases are increased or decreased?
-The revealed cases on the whole are decreased. If some years ago sexual trafficking was in the first place, now employment trafficking is on top. As working legislation in Russian Federation has been changed, maybe it will give opportunity to decrease or eliminate employment trafficking.
-How this problem is regulated in legal framework?
-Besides the existing ones, from June 2015, the law on “Identification and Support of Trafficking and Exploitation” will come into force. After this article comes into force, the procedure of state document “Organization of Support to Human Trafficking Victims” will lose force. Because organizational support here is developed in different form. A linking circle has been created in the name of identification committee which includes representatives from non-governmental organizations and law enforcement authorities. Before examination and prosecution they can decide whether the person is a victim of trafficking or no. With these regulations the criminal investigator of the case did not recognize him/her as a victim and it was impossible to organize state support. According to the new law, the committee is empowered to recognize the victim. It is totally sufficient that state support is given to that person. This is an essential step to help people. The other problem is that opportunities of the state are not aas broad from the aspect of support to people.
-Trafficking was criminalized in 2003. What image we had before and what was changed after that?
-Before that the police did not have resources or relevant articles to fight against it. In those cases they used other articles of crime such as promoting and organizing prostitution and so on. Article 132 on this crime of the Criminal Code came into force. Before that there were no articles to impose sanctions. And the phenomenon existing still in 90s started flourishing. In 2003 criminalization put everything in its place. And in January, 2004 the first case was registered by the police. After that revelations followed one another.
-How is the legal framework in Armenia nowadays?
-Our legal framework is one of the best in the world with its almost perfect legislation. No wonder, it is estimated as first group country. The US government makes annual evaluation of countries with 3 group system according to the attitude towards trafficking. The first group is countries which have mechanisms to fight against trafficking. The second group is the countries with incomplete mechanisms, but governments are willing to fight against trafficking. And the third group is the countries that neither recognize nor make steps for that. In 2001 Armenia was in the third group, then in the second controlling group and now in the first one.
-What is expected to happen to trafficking organizer?
-Approximately 14 years of imprisonment. It is almost the same as premeditated murder in some cases. If we consider that even one year of imprisonment creates tough situation, then we can say the punishment is very harsh. 99% of the organizers: the majority are women. They are experts of all stages.
-Can we say representatives of the poor class are becoming victims of trafficking?
-Sure. With today’s results, nobody is exploited by beating. They get the proposal to go and earn money, and by the way the travel costs are given by the others. We can say trafficking has the gambling effect: everyone goes to a casino and loses but everyone has the hope to win.
Interview: Tigranuhi Harutyunyan