Remarks for U.S. OSCE Ambassador Julie Finley — as delivered

Embassy Of The United States
Yerevan, Armenia

Remarks for U.S. OSCE Ambassador Julie Finley — as delivered
OSCE Office in Yerevan — TIP Training Seminar
October 19, 2006, 9:30am

It is very nice to have the opportunity to talk with you. This is an
important training seminar on the fight against Trafficking in Persons.
There is no country in the world–including the United States–which can say
it has solved the problem of Trafficking in Persons. Some may be doing more
or having more success than others, but it is a global problem that we all
share and must fight together.
It is heartening to see the talent and dedication of the people gathered in
this room; however, we remain concerned about the status of the
anti-trafficking program in Armenia. Armenia´s National Action Plan on
trafficking is due to expire at the end of this year, and a new Action Plan
must be drafted to replace it. According to the Foreign Minister earlier
this week, the government intends to upgrade Armenia´s inter-agency
anti-trafficking committee to a more senior level and designate a minister
to coordinate its activities. This would be a most welcome step.
Armenia has been on the United States Government´s Tier 2 Watch List for two
years now. That means, unfortunately, that Armenia’s work in this area has
not been sufficient. And it also means that, by law, the United States State
Department must provide an interim assessment of Armenia´s anti-trafficking
efforts to Congress by February 1st, 2007.
We believe we have been doing our part to help. The United States has funded
a number of anti-trafficking programs through the OSCE Office here, through
International Organization for Migration and through the United States
Embassy directly. These efforts have included support to an NGO victims’
shelter, training for judicial and consular officials, and legislative help,
to name a few examples. We will continue to provide a range of
anti-trafficking assistance to Armenia, but international assistance alone
cannot solve the problem. The Armenian government must be fully engaged.
We are particularly worried about allegations that some public officials may
be in league with traffickers. These allegations were mentioned specifically
in this year´s Trafficking in Persons report, which states . quote . "The
government failed to vigorously investigate and prosecute ongoing and
widespread allegations of public officials´ complicity and trafficking." end
quote.
Armenia´s position on the Tier 2 Watch List is precarious. If Armenia does
not address the concerns mentioned, it risks a Tier Three ranking. We hope,
however, that Armenia will show the serious and significant efforts needed
to graduate from the Watch List–and, more importantly, be more successful
in putting a stop to this terrible practice.
We hope you find the seminar today to be informative and useful. Thank you
very much for your hard work in the cause of human dignity.

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