Over the last half decade, IOM has implemented many counter-trafficking actions in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Although there have been major improvements in efforts to combat trafficking in human beings (THB) within these countries, as the modes of operation of traffickers continue to evolve, States need to ensure that interventions continue to address the needs of victims on the ground while at the same time focusing on targeted capacity-building of law enforcement. This is particularly true in light of recently identified global trends, including the increased incidents of trafficking for the purposes of labour exploitation, the recognized under-identification of male victims and an observed rise in the number of children identified as victims.
Therefore, at the end of 2015, IOM undertook a project funded by the IOM Development Fund to improve planned THB interventions in the countries in the South Caucasus by making available a comprehensive assessment of the overall THB situation in each country. The assessment was done for these specific purposes: (1) to collect and synthesize stakeholder views of the current human trafficking landscape and responses thereto in the region; (2) to identify stakeholders’ perspectives on the trafficking situation and trends, as well as the gaps in relation to identification and referral, assistance and protection, and prevention and cooperation; and (3) to arrive at key conclusions and offer recommendations on how to strengthen existing responses, correct inappropriate processes, and address gaps at the domestic and, to the extent possible, regional levels. In order to produce these reports, a researcher was hired to develop a counter-trafficking needs assessment tool in line with international standards to serve as a basis for a needs assessment of existing State and non-government organization counter-trafficking mechanisms in each country. The research methodology included a desk review, stakeholder survey, in-person interviews conducted in each country and a national validation workshop for each country.
As a result of this initiative, three separate national country reports for Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan were produced in June 2016. The findings within each report are broken down into the following categories: (a) national THB trends; (b) identification and referral; (c) assistance and protection; (d) investigation and prosecution; (e) prevention; (f) and coordination and cooperation. Findings were based on indicators developed as a part of the tool. Each report additionally contains recommendations to address gaps within each listed category, which stakeholders are invited to consider in their future efforts to combat THB in their respective countries.