Combating human trafficking and protecting victims in Cyprus

The Ministers of Justice and Public Order and Labor and Social Insurance spoke of zero tolerance for human trafficking

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The Ministers of Justice and Public Order and Labor and Social Insurance Stefi Drakou and Kyriakos Kousios spoke for zero tolerance for human trafficking respectively, while the need for a global approach to protect victims was mentioned by the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare Anastasia Anthousi. The three officials signed today a framework of Memorandums of Cooperation with the aim of preventing and combating the phenomenon as well as protecting and supporting the victims.

The signing of the memorandums took place at the Ministry of Justice and Public Order in the presence of the Chief of Police, Stelios Papatheodoros.

According to a joint announcement by the Ministries involved, two memoranda are included in the framework. First, a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Cyprus Police and the Inspection Service to prevent and combat human trafficking in the field of labor exploitation, signed today between the Ministers of Justice and Labour. Second, a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Cyprus Police and Social Welfare Services for the handling, protection and information of victims of human trafficking, signed in January 2022, between the Minister of Justice and the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare.

After the signing of the Memoranda, statements were made by the three Ministers and the Chief of Police. The three Ministers underlined the necessity for interdepartmental coordination and cooperation with the aim of more effectively managing incidents of exploitation and trafficking in persons.

Ms. Drakou stated that the goal of signing the memorandums is to send a resounding message that the state has zero tolerance for this form of crime that exists, such as human trafficking. For this, Ms. Drakou continued, we considered it necessary to coordinate the actions between the three Ministries in a way so that the procedures are more efficient and bring better results.

Our effort in the last year bore fruit, said Ms. Drakou, since we had nine convictions, four of which are related to labor exploitation. The Minister added that with these new convictions, the US Department of State upgraded Cyprus to category one in the fight against the phenomenon.

Mrs. Drakou assured that "permanent and unchangeable is our goal for the elimination of trafficking. This extreme form of exploitation and instrumentalization of victims that offends fundamental human rights, our values ​​and our culture."

For his part, Mr. Kousios said that we are sending the resounding message of zero tolerance to a serious form of crime, such as human trafficking. And this, he continued, can only be achieved through a coordinated approach.

He added that the cooperation of the three ministries takes a new form through the memoranda. "The departments of our Ministries will be able to cooperate with specific procedures with the sole aim of combating the offense of human trafficking," said the Minister.

In her turn, Mrs. Anthousi said that it is the government's belief that to effectively deal with and protect victims, a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and coordinated approach is required. As the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare, he said, we are next to the victims, offering them information, as well as psychological support and medical care services, help with housing, employment and their social reintegration.

"For the record, for the year 2022, the Undersecretary's Social Welfare Services were called and assisted in 123 reports and handled potential victims of trafficking, offering personalized support as needed," concluded the Undersecretary.

The Chief of Police welcomed the signing of the Memoranda and stated that it remains for the Police to implement them to the maximum extent possible. In the operational field, he continued, cases of this nature are very difficult to prove in court and require a lot of coordination.

"We also thank the Attorney General for bringing these cases before a court and, by extension, the courts that have realized that they must be tried quickly so that there is no escape of the victims, or any interference with their testimony," said Mr. Papatheodorou .

Source: KYPE