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Opponents of Human Trafficking from Transcaucasia Tour U.S. to Share InformationTranscaucasian officials at UCLA Law School. Photo by Gohar Grigorian

Opponents of Human Trafficking from Transcaucasia Tour U.S. to Share Information

Government officials from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia visit UCLA as part of training mission to stop the new human slavery.

By Gohar Grigorian

Nine government and police officials from the three republics of Transcaucasia--Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia--visited UCLA January 24 as part of a 21-day set of consultations in the United States on methods to stop trafficking in human beings for prostitution, slave labor, and domestic slavery.

In recent years, millions of women and children have been trafficked across borders and within countries for the purpose of slave labor -- typically forced prostitution, bonded sweatshop labor, and domestic servitude. In the United States alone, nearly 50,000 women and children are trafficked each year internally and across our borders. This new slavery is a particular problem for countries with weak economies.

This 21-day program introduced participants to the strategies employed and policies designed to combat human trafficking. The Transcaucasian officials gathered current information on organizations involved in trafficking and U.S. thinking on techniques to counter it. The program examined the different types of trafficking and explored the social, political, and economic factors that contribute to its occurrence as well as the effect trafficking has on its victims and the societies where it occurs.

A State Department briefing on the purposes of the visit noted, "According to recent studies, triggers for the increasing number of trafficking cases worldwide include: weak economies and few job opportunities in sending countries; low risk of prosecution; enormous profits for traffickers; and improved international transportation infrastructures for moving the victims. Approaches to combating trafficking (micro-credit programs in the sending countries, public information campaigns; stronger anti-trafficking laws; and victim protection programs) depend in large part on active, international cooperation."

While in the United States, this group of international visitors were to explore the following themes and institutions:

  • Government anti-trafficking and anti-slavery initiatives -- international collaboration on the investigation and prosecution of abuses; implications of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and the new visa category for victims of trafficking; programs to combat child labor;
  • Nongovernmental campaigns -- domestic and international antitrafficking and antislavery programs; combating the exploitation of migrant workers and children; legal aid and advocacy for immigrants;
  • Public/private partnerships and trafficking/slavery cases -- collaboration between law enforcement officials and community organizations -- building mutual trust at the local level -- individual case studies;
  • Global human rights organizations on the status of women, child labor, combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, and human trafficking abuses;
  • Outreach programs for victims of trafficking and abuse, mental and physical care and counseling;
  • Border Patrol and Immigration Policies concerning human trafficking.

During their three-week visit the officials met with federal and nongovernmental organizations and institutions, associations, police and border patrol offices and universities across the country. During their visit to UCLA they met with Professor Robert Goldstein of the UCLA Law School. They were hosted while on the campus by the International Visitors Bureau of the UCLA International Institute.

The members of the delegation were:

Armenia:

Mr. Ruben ABRAHAMYAN, Head of Department of Combating Illegal Migration.
Ms. Lyalya ASLANYAN, Deputy Head of the State Department for Migration and Refugees.
Mr. Ashot MKRTCHYAN, Head of Department on Drug Control.

Azerbaijan:

Ms. Farida Rasim Kizi ABBASOVA, Hot-line Operator, Migration Information Center.
Mr. Alovsat Khudu Oglu ALIYEV, Director, Center of Legal Assistance to Migrants.
Ms. Malahat Ibrahim Kizi HASANOVA, Deputy of the Parliament of Azerbaijan, Chairperson, Community of Women in the Parliament of Azerbaijan, Deputy Chairperson, State Women’s Committee.

Georgia:

Ms. Nino BAKAKURI, Program Director of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence, Georgian Young Lawyers Association.
Mr. Zaza MEISHVILI, Head of the Department of Citizenship, Civil Status Registration and Immigration Issues, Member of the Disciplinary Council of Judges of the Common Law on Courts of Georgia, Lecturer of Criminal Law.
Mrs. Lika SIAMASHVILI, Vice President of Women’s Non-Governmental Organization, “PEONI”, Chief of Staff, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Internal Arty of Georgia.
Mr. Alexander TSAKADZE, Senior Inspector, Department of Investigation of Special Cases, Ministry of Internal Affairs.

UCLA International Institute