On July 29, 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan hosted a conference on the international aspects of parental child abduction, adoption under the Hague Convention, and the sexual exploitation of children, with the participation of Armenian judges, prosecutors, investigators, advocates, members of the National Assembly, and non-governmental organizations. The purpose of the conference was to develop the participants’ capabilities to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate cases involving crimes involving child victims and represent those victims, to draft legislation to protect child victims, and to discuss national child welfare reform.
The conference enjoyed high-level participation from within the Armenian state and public entities, reflecting the seriousness with which Armenia approaches this issue. Richard M. Mills, Jr., United States Ambassador to Armenia, opened the discussion. Vigen Kocharyan, Deputy Minister of Justice, delivered the conference’s opening remarks. Other high-level representatives attended from the Armenian judiciary, the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Justice, and the Investigative Committee.
In his welcoming remarks, Ambassador Mills noted that the conference will allow the participants to share their experiences protecting children, learn from each other’s successes and mistakes, and find ways to cooperate when confronting difficult situations involving children. Recognizing the shared values of the United States and Armenia towards protecting children, he observed that by working together as partners, our two nations can help ensure that children – society’s most vulnerable members – residing in or transiting via Armenia benefit from a greater degree of protection from adults who would seek to take advantage of them, including cases of abduction and exploitation. Ambassador Mills concluded his remarks by praising the men and women in attendance who dedicate themselves to the protection of children.
The conference was organized with the support of the Embassy of the United States in Armenia, the United States Department of Justice, and the United States Agency for International Development.