By Emil Danielyan
An ad hoc government commission set up recently to investigate reports of human trafficking from Armenia held its first meeting on Monday, pledging to work out a plan of action against the forced transport of people abroad.
The commission comprising senior officials from several government ministries was formed by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian on October 16 in an apparent response to U.S. allegations that Armenia is a major source of human trafficking in the region. The U.S. State Department said in a report last June that the Armenian authorities are not doing enough to tackle the problem.
The Foreign Ministry in Yerevan said the matter has already been discussed by the U.S.-Armenian intergovernmental Task Force. It said members of the commission agreed on the need to draw up a “national program of actions” and suggest appropriate changes in Armenia’s criminal code.
“It was decided to create a sub-commission which will submit proposals pertaining to the legislative, socioeconomic and healthcare spheres at the next meeting,” the ministry said in a statement.
The statement added that the commission, which is headed by a senior Foreign Ministry official, agreed to “closely cooperate” with the U.S. as well as the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The State Department report said that Armenia is a "source country for women and girls trafficked to the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Russia, Greece and Germany for sexual exploitation." "The Government of Armenia does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so," it concluded.