Capacity Developing Support and Victim Assistance
Trafficking in human beings (THB) is a multi-dimensional issue. It is a crime that deprives people of their basic rights and freedom, increases global health risks, fuels growing networks of organized crime, and is an obstacle to development. The impacts of human trafficking on the individual, family and society are devastating. Victims may suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, and threats against themselves and their families. Human trafficking undermines the health, safety, and security of nations and has long-term implications for all of society. The proliferation of trafficking in Armenia has been driven by a combination of factors: man made and natural disasters such as war and earthquake; transitional processes that shook social and economic conditions creating an increase in unemployment and poverty; porous borders; and weak legislative protection and legal processes.
Through initiatives by the Republic of Armenia and international actors an effective counter trafficking policy has been developed, legislative changes have been introduced, and many activities have been implemented.The Government of Armenia (GoA) has ratified relevant international counter trafficking instruments, including the UN Palermo Convention and Protocol, and the Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on Actions Against Trafficking in Human Beings. The GoA has introduced important changes in its own legislation, such as strengthening concepts of THB as they relate to criminal legislation and creating better defined criminal sanctions.
In efforts to comply with minimum international standards, the GoA cooperated in a joint UMCOR/United Nations Development Program (UNDP) program that started in 2004. Under this program, UMCOR developed many important components to prevent trafficking: specialized information materials, seminars, awareness campaigns, radio and TV information programs, a hotline, a victims’ shelter and drop-in center. Effective cooperation has been established with relevant state partners, including border guards, police, the Prosecutor General’s Office, social, health and labor authorities on national and local levels, as well as NGOs and international agencies. Victims of trafficking (VoTs), both men and women, have received various packages of assistance including shelter, legal consulting and representation in court; individual and group psychological therapies; medical assistance including hospitalization; and reintegration activities such as vocational skills training, job placement and financial assistance.
A safe, confidential shelter of UMCOR is providing medical, psychological, employment and legal counseling, as well as reintegration services, for victims rescued from trafficking. It can house eight to ten survivors. Victims stay in the shelter depending on the psychological and physical recovery they need.
In 2010, UMCOR was approached by the GoA to develop a joint model for a national shelter for VoTs with financial support from the GoA. This collaboration and the state financial support covers expenses connected with the shelter premise rent and continued in 2012 as well.
UMCOR also provides project beneficiaries vocational skills trainings and covers their living expenses until they would be able to earn money themselves. Reintegration services also include employment counseling, which refers victims to exsting resources such as governmental programs or projects of local and international NGOs for employment or vocational training. UMCOR staff conducts trainings on health related issues (Prevention of HIV/AIDS and STIs; reproductive health, etc.).
UMCOR maintained the toll-free hotline to prevent human trafficking and to assist VoTs by providing a variety of information to clients including advice about laws and rights of migrants in the destination country, how to access assistance in the destination country, and refer clients to available assistance for health, employment, shelter, medical and legal aid issues.
UMCOR anti-trafficking hotline
Government of Armenia, United Nations Development Programme
Anti-Trafficking Program: Capacity Building Support and Victim Assistance
Project implementation period: September 2006 - August 2009
Donor: Norwegian Government
The aim of this three-year project was to facilitate the continued development of a national framework to tackle the problem of human trafficking at the policy and institutional levels as well as provide direct assistance to victims of trafficking. The project included capacity development of national duty-bearers in preventing human trafficking; capacity development of the law enforcement and the judiciary in their role as duty-bearers to investigate, prosecute and make final judgments on human trafficking cases; and strengthening of the local capacity to uphold the rights of the victims of trafficking as claim holders and, hence, protect and support their reintegration into society through victims assistance.
Eight specific activities were undertaken to strengthen the national and regional capacities to prevent human trafficking, to assist the Armenian law enforcement in their efforts to investigate, prosecute and make final judgments on human trafficking cases, and to provide assistance to victims of trafficking. The project supported 1) an assessment of the institutional anti-trafficking framework; 2) the strengthening of the national regulation of labour migration; 3) the local anti-trafficking NGO and Mass Media Networks through grants, 4) the enhancement of the national law enforcement, prosecution and judiciary’s efforts to investigate, prosecute and make final judgments on human trafficking cases, 5) the national legislative and policy frameworks, 6) the regional cooperation and harmonization of anti-trafficking efforts and policies, 7) a vulnerability survey among graduates from orphanages and boarding schools, and 8) the strengthening of the local capacity to protect, assist victims and reintegrate victims of trafficking into society.
UMCOR Armenia was implementing a series of activities including building a capacity framework for institutional strengthening and policy development, which included training for social workers, employment agencies and medical personnel, as well as the preparation of special manuals for the professionals in these areas. Moreover, UMCOR carried out various awareness-raising activities such as publication of information booklets, posters, demonstration of Public Service Announcements on local TV and the organization of seminars and information campaigns. Finally, UMCOR's third area of action related to victims assistance for which UMCOR operated a hot line and a counseling center, as well as the reintegration of victims into society through legal, medical, psychological, employment and other types of counseling provided in the Rehabilitation and Assistance Center (shelter) of UMCOR.