Navigation path

Cyprus

  • 1. GENERAL INFORMATION

    Cyprus is a destination country and the main forms of Trafficking in Human Beings are for the purpose of sexual exploitation and labour exploitation.

    The offence of trafficking for sexual exploitation is usually committed in cabarets, bars, nightclubs, private flats or any other establishment camouflaged as a legitimate business, such as massage or spa centres and also with the use of internet (mostly women are forced to prostitution).

    Trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation is a major problem, but is more hidden and both men and women are forced to this.

    The new forms of Trafficking in Human Beings that came to light are the following:

    • Street prostitution. It is more difficult to identify and tackle the traffickers at the same time. It doesn’t cost any money to the trafficker as he doesn’t have to maintain any kind of business.
    • Trafficking with the purpose of marriages of convenience. The majority of victims come from European countries, mostly from Bulgaria and Romania. Even though this form of trafficking is not provided by the Law 87(I)/2007, victims are identified and granted with their rights.
    • Trafficking with the purpose of begging. Especially in Christmas time, Romanian nationals are the mostly trafficked.

    The most recent form of trafficking that came to light is the exploitation of Indian Nationals who are trafficked in Cyprus for the purpose of forced labour in agriculture. In most of these cases the perpetrators are intermediaries of the same ethnicity as the victims.
    Furthermore, a limited number of persons from Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Dominican Republic were identified as victims during the reporting period.
    Exploitation of the 3 months visitor’s visa for the purposes of sexual exploitation has been noted.
    It has also been noted that a number of victims that origin from Eastern Europe third countries possess of EU traveling documents. It has not been identified yet if these documents are false/falsified or genuine.

    • Until 30 June 2012 the total number of identified victims were 22 as follows: 15 victims trafficked for labour exploitation;
    • 7 victims trafficked for sexual exploitation.

    The allegations of an NGO of possible link between THB and the abuse of student visas are under consideration. 

    A summary of this text is available in the official language of the country.

    Attachments

  • 2. INSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK

    Legislation

    All forms of human trafficking are prohibited. The Law for Combating Trafficking, Exploitation of Human Beings and for the Protection of Victims of 2007 (N.87 (I) / 2007) entered into force on 13 July 2007. It includes specific provisions for the criminalisation of human trafficking, the protection and support of victims of these offences, and administrative provisions for the implementation of the Law.

    • The Law defines trafficking in persons as a penal offence and provides punishment of up to 15 years' imprisonment.
    • Trafficking in children is punished with up to 20 years' imprisonment.
    • Trafficking in organs is punished with up to 25 years' imprisonment.
    • Trafficking for forced labour is punished with up to six years if the victim is an adult and with up to ten years if the victim is a minor.

    The Law implements the Council Directive 2004/81 (on the residence permit issued to third country nationals who are victims of trafficking of human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration). This legislation provides for giving victims of trafficking a one month reflection period with the possibility of renewal.

    Furthermore, sexual exploitation of persons is punished with up to ten years' imprisonment, sexual exploitation of children with up to twenty years' imprisonment, child pornography with up to ten years and / or a fine of €42715, confiscation of personal documents with five years and / or a fine of €17 100, maintaining a brothel with five years and / or a fine of €17100, and corruption of civil servants with five years and / or a fine of €17100. The liability of legal entities and the liability of transporters are also criminalized by the Law.

    The Law is in conformity with the international treaties, conventions and EU legal acts such as the Framework Decisions of the European Council 2002/629 and 2004/68.

    The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings was ratified on 24 July 2007 and put in force on the 1st February 2008.

    Coordination of anti-trafficking actions at a national level

    The role of the National Co-ordinator for combating trafficking in human beings is exercised by the Minister of Interior in accordance with the Law 87(I)/2007.

    In addition to this, a Multidisciplinary Co-ordinating Group was established in 2007. The Group is tasked to take all the necessary measures to combat human trafficking and to protect the victims. The Multidisciplinary Co-ordinating Group is chaired by the National Co-ordinator.

    The Group meets on a regular basis every three months. For the more efficient operation of the Group, specialised matters are assigned to working groups with the responsibility to submit recommendations and suggestions to the plenary of the Group.

    The main responsibilities of the multidisciplinary co-ordinating group are:

    • Monitoring, evaluating and revising the implementation of the National Action Plan;
    • Co-operating with countries of origin, transit or other destination countries of victims, providing protection to victims and developing mechanisms for combating the offences described in the Law;
    • Monitoring and analysing developments in international law;
    • Drafting an annual report on the implementation of the Law, and the situation domestically and internationally in the field of human trafficking. This report is submitted to the House of Representatives for information purposes, after it has been approved by the Council of Ministers.

    Members of the Multidisciplinary Co-ordinating Group include the Law Office of the Republic, the Ministry of Justice and Public Order, the Police, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labour, the Social Welfare Services, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Civil Registry and Migration Department, the Asylum Service, and the National Machinery for the Rights of Women. Apart from bringing together all competent government authorities, there are two NGOs represented in the group, namely the Mediterranean Institute for Gender and the Organization for the Protection of Victims of Sexual Exploitation (STIGMA).

    National Strategy/National Action Plan

    The first National Action Plan for the Coordination of Actions to combat Trafficking in Human Beings was drawn up in 2001. However, a new National Action Plan (2010-2012) was prepared by the Multidisciplinary Co-ordinating Group and approved by the Council of Ministers in 2010.

    The new National Action Plan includes specific targets and practical measures, under the following nine thematic areas: coordination; prevention; identification and recognition of victims; protection and support of victims; suppression and prosecution; data collection; training; international cooperation; and evaluation.

    National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanisms

    The Republic of Cyprus has not appointed a National Rapporteur.

    However, the competencies of the National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanism are exercised by the Multidisciplinary Co-ordinating Group.

  • 3. IMPLEMENTATION OF ANTI-TRAFFICKING POLICY

    Prevention

    Specific efforts to prevent human trafficking in Cyprus have included awareness raising campaigns and training of officials. Specific actions to raise awareness have been included in the National Action Plan.

    In December 2008, the Ministry of Interior launched a four month awareness raising campaign in the country. The campaign included the display of posters at main roads, highways, airports and other important locations, the dissemination of informational leaflets to all universities, colleges, at the Larnaca airport and also through the daily press and the airing of TV spots. Furthermore, the Ministry of Interior supported the efforts of other institutions such as the House of Representatives and ASTRA radio station by providing relevant printed material and financial support.

    Moreover, the Police support and participate in awareness-raising campaigns in cooperation with Governmental Departments and NGOs. The Head of the Office of Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the Police gives lectures on a regular basis to educate members of the Police about human trafficking.

    Training of Officials

    Specific actions have also been included in the National Action Plan with regard to the training of government officials and judges.

    A large number of police officers are trained every year in Cyprus and abroad. The training programs include modules on current laws and regulations, intelligence gathering and operations, victim identification, interview techniques, victims’ support and protection.

    Assistance and support provided to victims

    According to the Law for Combating Trafficking, [L. 83(I)/2007], victims of trafficking are protected from penalties in cases where the offence is directly related to their status as victims. Victims have a one month reflection period with the possibility of renewal. No fees are required for the issue of the relevant temporary residencepermit. During this period the victims have the following rights:

    • protection from deportation;
    • the right to medical care;
    • the right to information concerning their rights and possibilities provided for by the Law;
    • public allowance;
    • the right to psychological support;
    • protection by the police;
    • free translation and interpretation services;
    • protection of personal data;
    • access to programmes provided by the State or by NGOs in cooperation with the State (if available) for  rehabilitation of the social life of the victims (e.g. vocational training);
    • the right to change sector of employment.

    The Law also provides for the victim to seek compensation.

    Since November 2007, a shelter for female victims of sexual exploitation has operated within the national framework to support victims of sexual exploitation. The shelter, which is under the responsibility of the Social Welfare Services, provides safe accommodation, psychological support and counselling, an individualized treatment plan and legal advice to victims of sexual trafficking.

    Review of the policy for artists

    On 29 October 2008, the Council of Ministers approved a proposal, submitted by the Minister of Interior, reviewing the policy for the entry, residence and employment of artists (most of the identified victims of human trafficking) who are third country nationals. From February 1st2009, all third country nationals entering the Republic to be employed as artists have been issued employment permits as creative artists (writers, composers, painters etc) or as performing artists (actors, dancers, singers, etc). Specific criteria concerning the qualifications of the artists and their previous experience need to be fulfilled. To counter human trafficking, the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance is undertaking a revision of legislation regulating Private Employment Agencies.

    Special protective measures for children

    The Combating of Trafficking and Exploitation of Persons and Protection of Victims Law of 2007 is compliant with the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Several provisions are included for cases where children are involved, for example stricter penalties, while in the 'identification and protection of the victims' part of the Law, special measures and methods are provided for child victims.

    The Law provides for underage victims' access to education and specialised medical and other care.

    Investigation and prosecution

    Established multidisciplinary groups, special units/police groups

    The Office of Combating Trafficking in Human Beings was established by the Cyprus Police in 2004. The Office is responsible for gathering, processing, analysing and utilizing intelligence about human trafficking. It also co-ordinates the actions of the District Divisions involved in the investigation of relevant cases.

    Members of the Office take part in operations that aim to combat human trafficking and they have direct contact with victims until the final court decisions are reached. Furthermore, the Office co-operates with foreign services, governmental and non-governmental organisations on matters related to human trafficking. Finally, the Office organises and runs training programmes for police members in co-operation with the Cyprus Police Academy.

    Number of investigations and prosecutions

    According to the 2010 United States Trafficking in Persons Report, in 2009 the Cypriot police investigated 57 persons in 17 suspected trafficking cases. Of the 17 trafficking cases, eight were sent to court, seven are still under investigation, and two were “otherwise disposed of.” The Cypriot government convicted ten sex trafficking offenders in 2009. Sentences ranged from a $4,400 fine to four years in prison.

    Latest initiatives/activities related to anti-trafficking policy

    Apart from all the activities undertaken by the Cyprus Presidency during 2012 a series of other activities were implemented.
    The Amending Law against Trafficking in Human Beings came into force on 9.3.2012. It provides, inter alia, the increase of the number of NGOs participating in the MCG. It also gives the right to experts and other bodies to attend MCG meetings when necessary. The four NGOs currently participating in the MCG are:

    1. Organization for Protecting Victims of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (STIGMA);
    2. Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies;
    3. Action for Equality Support Anti-Racism – KISA (new member);
    4. Cyprus Stop Trafficking (new member).

    A competition with prize for the preparation of posters and a logo for the Multidisciplinary Coordinating Group for combating trafficking in human beings to be used in campaigns, in cooperation with Universities/Colleges/schools began in September 2011 and ended in May 2012. The winning logo is now the official logo of the Multidisciplinary Coordinating Group.
    A follow up seminar on trafficking in human beings addressed to Judges took place on the 3rd of May, 2012. The above mentioned seminar was co-organised with the Cyprus Supreme Court and the American Embassy. It emphasized on the importance of expert witness during court procedures.
    A similar training seminar was also delivered to the Counsels of the Republic on the 2nd of May 2012. Finally, another training seminar was delivered on the 3rd of May 2012 to the Social Welfare Officers which was concentrated on victim’s behavior and trauma.
    Furthermore, in collaboration with the Netherlands and Poland, work has been initiated for implementing the project “Putting Rantsev into Practice” which is financed by the European Commission.
    Additionally, the Ministry of Interior and the Anti-trafficking Office of the Police, participated at the annual festival for democracy of the ASTRA radio station by providing information and material regarding THB.
    A series of inter-governmental training sessions is planned for different groups of civil servants such as: labour inspectors, immigration officers, local authorities, doctors, psychologists, consular officers, teachers, welfare officers. These seminars will be contacted by relevant governmental and non-governmental experts.

    The main challenges faced by the Republic of Cyprus regarding combating THB remain the low number of convictions, lack of sufficient corroborative evidence to support victims’ testimonies, the need to further enhance international cooperation especially with third countries of origin, the need of encouraging more involvement of local authorities in our efforts to combat THB and the issue of tackling demand. Further challenges arise in regards to compensation, the use of interpreters during the criminal procedures and the connection with the asylum procedures.

    Cyprus and the International Organization for Migration, signed on the 17/12/2012 in Geneva a Cooperation Agreement between them. Based on the agreement, IOM will open an Office in Cyprus in the near future which will implement projects including the issues of trafficking in human beings, returns, capacity building, etc.

    The final evaluation of the action plan 2010-2012 by the MCG (Multidisciplinary Coordinating Group against THB) took place on 14 December 2012.

    On 23 January 2013 the National Coordinator submitted to the Council of Ministers the first National Report on combating THB. The report covers the period 2008-2011. The MCG is currently preparing the National Report for the year 2012.

    Two working groups appointed by the MCG submitted their suggestions for the new Action Plan 2013-2015. The final drafting of the new action plan was assigned to the Ministry of Interior and an NGO member of the MCG. The new action plan should be submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval no later than the 31st of March 2013.

    Following a decision of the MCG, the National coordinator and members of the MCG provided in 2013 an even more systematic and constant training of all relevant public officers. Within this framework two training sessions addressed to the consular officers were held on the 27-28 February 2013. The presentations were video recorded with the aim to be send to all the consular services of the Republic.

    A round table meeting between representatives of the Council of Europe and all members of MCG took place in Nicosia on the 4 March 2013 on the follow-up to be given to GRETA’s report.

    The Ministry of Education and Culture has introduced in its New Analytical Programmes topics related to THB mainly through the disciplines of Health Education, Language and History.

    The National Coordinator is currently having consultations with all relevant governmental agencies on the second draft of the NRM Handbook which has been submitted to the MCG by an NGO member of the MCG.

    Furthermore, the preparation of the conference “Putting Rantsev into Practice” in collaboration with Poland and the Netherlands is ongoing.

    Our main challenges remain the low number of convictions, lack of sufficient corroborative evidence to support victims’ testimonies, the need to further enhance international cooperation especially with third countries of origin, the need of encouraging more involvement of local authorities in our efforts to combat THB and the issue of tackling demand. Further challenges arise in regards to compensation, the use of interpreters during the criminal procedures and the connection with the asylum procedures. 

    National Referral Mechanisms

    Article 29 of the Law Reviewing the Legal Framework Regulating the Special Protection of Human Beings who are Victims of Trafficking and Exploitation and Related Matters (Law L. 87(I)/2007) provides that:

    “In the event the service involved or the non-governmental organisation is of the opinion or reasonably suspects that a person is a victim under the provisions of this Law, it shall refer the person to the Social Welfare Services who shall inform him of his rights and the services under this Law, and they shall refer him directly to the Police, which is the competent authority to determine and identify whether the said person is a victim….…the Social Welfare Services provide the victims the information that they require, in a language they can understand, in order to protect their interests as victims, which may, where possible, be given in writing……”

  • 4. EU AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

    The Cyprus Police cooperates with other EU Member States, and with third countries, on exchanging information and criminal intelligence and several bilateral agreements have been reached. These agreements provide for co-operation in combating and preventing organised crime, including trafficking in human beings. Moreover, a special chapter has been included in the new National Action Plan for strengthening cooperation with European and International Institutions as well as with countries of origin and transit.

    In April 2009, a delegation from Moldova visited Cyprus to meet with all the relevant authorities to strengthen cooperation on trafficking issues between the two countries. Both countries expressed their willingness to explore methods of further cooperation on combating trafficking of human beings, including exchange of contact details to promote day to day cooperation.

    The Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Law Office organised a conference on trafficking and organised crime on 18-19 September 2008 in cooperation with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations.

    Future plans in terms of implementation of the directive 2011/36/EU

    The drafting of the new Law against THB has just been completed by the technical committee and will be submitted to the Law Office of the Republic for legal vetting. The task of this committee was not only to draft the bill transposing the new EU directive to the national legislation but also to revise the existing legislation in order to tackle possible shortcomings and include in the new legislation GRETA’s recommendations. 

  • 5. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    Areas in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control

    The northern area of Cyprus, in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control, is a destination for women primarily trafficked from countries in Eastern Europe for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of the women who received 'artiste' work permits in this area are from Moldova and Ukraine. A smaller number includes women from Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, the Philippines, Kenya, Romania, and Nigeria.

    According to the US Trafficking in Persons Report, the authorities in the areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of Cyprus does not exercise effective control did not identify any victims of trafficking during 2008. An anti-trafficking bill was drafted in 2007. Trafficking crimes can potentially be prosecuted on charges of 'living off the earnings of prostitution' or 'encouraging prostitution'. Persons convicted under these laws can receive up to two years’ imprisonment. There is no evidence to indicate that the authorities in these areas of the Republic of Cyprus have any specialised care or shelter for victims of trafficking.

  • 6. RESOURCES

Table of Contents