Last Updated: Tuesday, 06 December 2016, 14:53 GMT

2014 Trafficking in Persons Report - Greece

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 20 June 2014
Cite as United States Department of State, 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report - Greece, 20 June 2014, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/53aab9f514.html [accessed 6 December 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

GREECE (Tier 2)

Greece is a transit, destination, and a very limited source country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, and men subjected to forced labor. Some women from Eastern Europe (including Latvia, Lithuania, and Georgia), Nigeria, Dominican Republic, China, and some countries in Africa are subjected to sex trafficking in Greece. Victims of forced labor identified in Greece, are primarily children and men, from Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, India, Moldova, Pakistan, Romania, and Poland. Migrant workers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, are susceptible to debt bondage, reportedly in agriculture. According to police and NGOs, there has been an increase in the number of Roma children from Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania who are subjected to forced labor in Greece by family members to sell goods on the street, beg, or commit petty theft. Women reportedly are transported through the Aegean islands and through the Greek-Turkish border in Evros and instructed to file for asylum. They subsequently are subjected to sex trafficking in Athens and other major cities, in addition to being transported through Greece for forced labor and sex trafficking in Italy and other EU countries. Authorities identified two Greek citizens as victims of sex trafficking within the country. Asylum seekers from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan were vulnerable to debt bondage imposed by smugglers and trafficking offenders. Restaurants, nightclubs, yacht rental companies, and other small businesses serve as money laundering fronts for small cells of criminal trafficking networks.

The Government of Greece does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government convicted more trafficking offenders compared to the previous reporting period and improved trafficking victim identification procedures for police responsible for screening women in prostitution. The government passed new legislation establishing a national coordinator for human trafficking. However, the government failed to make all victim services authorized by the law readily accessible to trafficking victims. There was no shelter for male victims and no emergency shelter easily accessible for victims of trafficking. In-kind support, but no state funding, was given to NGOs providing services and shelter for victims of trafficking. The provision of temporary residence permits was similar to the previous year.

Recommendations for Greece:

Effectively train law enforcement officers to improve screening for trafficking among asylum seekers, women in prostitution, and other vulnerable populations; ensure all services available by law for victims are provided to victims, including shelter for male victims of trafficking, labor trafficking victims, and emergency shelter for all victims; ensure victims of trafficking are transferred out of detention to appropriate shelter and protection; provide training to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges on recent legislative amendments and in victim-centered training; prosecute and convict trafficking offenders, including officials alleged to be complicit in trafficking; utilize witness protection for victims and encourage their participation in investigations and prosecutions; provide victim-centered training on trafficking and victim support services to health care workers and social service providers; provide funding for anti-trafficking NGOs for victim shelter and victim support services; and continue to issue temporary residence permits to third-country national trafficking victims.

Prosecution

The Government of Greece sustained law enforcement efforts in 2013; while the government convicted more trafficking offenders during the reporting period, there continued to be wide variation between judges' individual knowledge of trafficking and sensitivity in court to victims of trafficking. Greek Law 3064/2002 and Presidential Decree 233/2003 prohibit both sex trafficking and forced labor and prescribe punishments of up to 10 years' imprisonment with fines the equivalent of approximately $14,000 to $70,000. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In October 2013, the government enacted Law 4198/2013 to bring its law into alignment with EU Directive 2011/36 and amended the Greek penal code, prescribing penalties for forced labor offenders of up to ten years' imprisonment and fines and ten years' imprisonment and fines for crimes against children or persons with disabilities. Police investigated 37 human trafficking cases in 2013, compared with 46 cases in 2012; 11 investigations were for forced begging or labor. In 2013, the government prosecuted 142 defendants on suspicion of committing trafficking-related crimes, a decrease from 177 in 2012 and 220 in 2011. Of these, 26 defendants were prosecuted for labor trafficking and 23 defendants for labor and sexual exploitation. Only partial data on convictions from approximately half of the courts in Greece was available. The government convicted 46 traffickers and acquitted 16, compared with 27 convictions and 16 acquittals in 2012. NGOs reported in four cases, sentences ranged from 15 to 22 years' imprisonment and fines. Lawyers for trafficking suspects frequently portrayed their clients as pimps in an effort to obtain more lenient penalties of up to five years' imprisonment and to avoid jail time through payment of fines. During the reporting period, police arrested three Greek foremen accused of shooting into a crowd of some 200 migrant workers at a farm. The Greek government granted trafficking status to 35 Bangladeshi migrants who were injured, and charged the three foremen with numerous offenses, including human trafficking. The authorities did not take law enforcement action in cases of other migrants working in similar conditions at the same farm and in other farms in the same region. Labor inspectorate checks in the region have failed to find similar cases of trafficking, despite reports of their existence from NGOs and journalists.

In collaboration with an NGO, police provided training on implementing a victim-centered approach to other police and 142 high ranking police officers. Although informed about relevant trafficking law, judges and prosecutors were not trained in trafficking cases or in using a victim-centered approach to cases. The police collaborated on transnational anti-trafficking investigations with Romania, Albania, Spain, the United States, and Bulgaria. In one such case, Greek authorities rescued 18 victims of sex trafficking and forced labor from a large-scale international trafficking ring in Greece with the help of law enforcement counterparts from Spain, the United States, EUROPOL, and INTERPOL. However, there were reports that Greek law enforcement authorities refused to cooperate on trafficking cases in Moldova. There were allegations that police patronized establishments implicated in human trafficking. The Hellenic Police Internal Affairs Unit investigated cases of corruption among police, including police acceptance of bribes from traffickers. Police dismantled a sex trafficking ring involving two police officers who were arrested, suspended from duty, and charged as accomplices to trafficking and other crimes. An NGO reported encountering bureaucratic opposition while attempting to advance the court case of a victim who testified that high ranking officials were involved in her trafficking. There was an additional report of organized crime police's alleged involvement in the trafficking of two victims. Media reported a judicial officer was involved in the trafficking of women from Bulgaria who were exploited as domestic servants. Separately, two police officers were arrested and charged with allegedly providing internal police information to traffickers.

Protection

The Government of Greece sustained efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the year. More labor trafficking victims were identified and more victims received official victim status. The government granted a similar number of residency permits to foreign trafficking victims as the previous year. NGOs did not receive any government funding to assist victims of trafficking. The government had provisions for victims of trafficking to access psychological support, medical care, and legal aid. Reportedly, victims had difficulty obtaining medical care and legal aid, as some health workers were unaware of these victim service provisions. During the reporting period, the government funded a state-run short-term shelter and processing center for victims of trafficking and other forms of abuse, and 17 state-run long-term shelters for victims of violence including trafficking. Other shelters serving victims of trafficking were run by NGOs with support from international donors. The government did not provide funding for NGOs, although it did provide in-kind donations in the form of rent-free buildings for NGO shelters. Victims were allowed to leave the shelters unchaperoned and at will. There were no shelters available for men or options for emergency shelter. The government's short-term shelter required beneficiaries to complete medical exams prior to shelter being offered. Child victims were served in the government short-term shelter, NGO shelters, facilities for unaccompanied minors, orphanages, or in separate units of adult detention centers. The government identified 99 victims in 2013, compared with 94 in 2012. The government identified a significantly higher proportion of labor trafficking victims. Of the 99 victims, 30 were victims of sexual exploitation, eight were subjected to both forced labor and trafficking for sexual exploitation, and 61 victims were subjected to forced labor or begging, compared with 25 victims identified in 2012. Of the 99 victims identified, 43 received official victim status allowing them access to government-provided care, compared with eight in 2012. The government-run shelter provided assistance to 22 victims, including one male victim of trafficking. The state sheltered 15 victims, two of whom were able to remain with their infants, and NGOs sheltered 20 victims of trafficking. The government signed contracts with two NGOs for the protection and assistance of underage victims and female victims of trafficking. Formal agreements between NGOs and law enforcement enabled the government to transfer victims from law enforcement custody to government- and NGO-operated shelters. Reportedly, victims seeking assistance at some police stations not familiar with trafficking cases were instructed to contact other stations. The government provided training on identifying victims of trafficking to law enforcement, immigration officers, social service workers, labor inspectors, and health workers. Trafficking victims were reportedly far more likely to be first encountered by border police or coast guard officers, who may not have extensive training in identifying trafficking victims, during operations to detain illegal migrants, missing opportunities to identify victims of trafficking. NGOs reported there was little formal training given to detention center staff in identifying victims of trafficking. NGOs reported positive cooperation with police and anti-trafficking units, and noted improvement in victim identification procedures.

Greek law provides victims witness protection in trial; however, often no protection was offered prior to the beginning of the court case. A new law allows for mental health professionals to be assigned and present when victims are testifying. The law allows the use of audio visual technology for remote testimony, while in practice most courts lack the capabilities to deploy these resources. There were reports the government did not effectively grant victims a reflection period provided for in Greek law and some foreign victims were deported. The government issued new temporary residency permits to 12 foreign victims of trafficking and renewed residency permits for 42 victims in 2013, compared with 12 new temporary residency permits, 51 renewals, and four reissuances in 2012, affording them the right to obtain employment in Greece. Greek authorities reportedly arrested and detained trafficking victims for prostitution offenses without screening for signs of trafficking.

Prevention

The Government of Greece increased prevention efforts by establishing a national coordinator. The government continued to run an anti-trafficking public awareness campaign on national television, radio stations, and social media, targeting female victims of violence including human trafficking. The campaign distributed publications and encouraged victims to seek help and report suspected cases to the government hotline for female victims of violence. The government co-organized a seminar for teachers on trafficking of children. The government translated and published victim identification procedures for professionals. There is no national action plan exclusively for anti-trafficking efforts; however, trafficking is included in the national action plan for human rights. The government did not demonstrate efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.

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