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Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Greece

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 4 June 2008
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Greece, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a192d.html [accessed 31 July 2014]
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 destination and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women are trafficked from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Africa for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Source countries over the reporting period include Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine, Albania, Nigeria, and Sudan. Some Albanian men are trafficked to Greece for forced labor. Most children trafficked from Albania to Greece are subjected to forced labor, including forced begging and petty crimes; some are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Reportedly, trafficking of Nigerian victims for the purposes of sexual exploitation continued to increase and some victims were forced to marry traffickers or their associates to "legalize" their status in the country.

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. While Greece continued to fund prevention programs in source countries, co-sponsor anti-trafficking training, and provide for domestic shelters in Greece, long-standing recommendations in previous reports concerning victim identification, victim protection, and punishment for traffickers remain unaddressed. Greece has yet to ratify a 2004 child repatriation agreement negotiated with Albania, shelters remain underutilized, and convicted traffickers are not serving imposed sentences. Inadequate protection of both identified and potential trafficking victims remain serious concerns.

Recommendations for Greece: Continue collaboration with NGOs in victim identification; ensure better protection for children who are victims of trafficking, including ratification of the agreement with Albania; proactively investigate and prosecute as appropriate reports of law enforcement officials' complicity in trafficking; ensure traffickers serve time in prison, deterring exploitation of additional victims in Greece; ensure witnesses are provided with adequate protection and assistance throughout the investigation; and ensure prosecution of their traffickers.

Prosecution

The Government of Greece's law enforcement efforts decreased in 2007, although authorities reportedly initiated 48 trafficking prosecutions. Greek law 3064, adopted in 2002, prohibits trafficking for both sexual exploitation and forced labor, and prescribes imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of $13,000 to $65,000. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other grave crimes. Law enforcement arrests decreased from 206 in 2006 to 121 in 2007, and investigations decreased from 70 to 41 in the same year. The government did not provide specific data on the number of traffickers convicted during this reporting period. The government's record on punishing convicted traffickers remained unclear. Many NGOs report that convicted traffickers who face lengthy prisons sentences are granted bail pending appeals of their convictions. The government did report that in February 2007, a court in Athens sentenced a Nigerian defendant to 19 years' imprisonment and denied his request for bail pending appeal.

The government has not provided information concerning whether any other traffickers convicted under the 2002 law are serving time in prison. The government co-sponsored an IOM training seminar aimed at assisting prosecutors in applying protections guaranteed to victims in November 2007 and included anti-trafficking as part of its training to its nationals prior to deployment on peacekeeping missions abroad. Despite continued reports of law enforcement officials facilitating trafficking, the government failed to demonstrate adequate investigations or prosecutions of these officials. NGOs and media reports indicate that some local police take bribes or accept sex services from traffickers, patronize establishments implicated in trafficking, or ignore the problem. NGOs and journalists reported that some Greek consular officials abroad facilitate trafficking by willingly granting visas to foreign trafficking victims. Police and NGOs reported that the majority of identified victims in 2007 held legal visas, and NGOs report that in most cases, the visas were expedited by traffickers and issued without personal interviews. The government is investigating two specific consular cases that occurred during the reporting period, but has not provided information about the results of these investigations. Three police officers, two of them senior, charged with trafficking complicity in 2005 have still not been brought to trial. According to Amnesty International, in April 2006, the Greek government charged two officers and a guard with raping a Bulgarian trafficking victim after the apprehension of her traffickers.

Protection

The Government of Greece did not demonstrate significant tangible progress in protecting trafficking victims, though it continued to co-sponsor seminars on the topic and there was some progress in working with NGOs on victim identification. In 2007, only 35 trafficking victims received assistance from the government, 17 of which received full victim status via official recognition by the trafficking prosecutor. The government increased the number of victims identified from 83 in 2006 to 100 in 2007, though this is still less than the 137 victims identified in 2005. IOM reported the repatriation of 15 victims; however, the government did not facilitate the responsible return, nor did it provide assistance to the remaining 50 victims. Some NGOs, including Amnesty International and the Greek Helsinki Monitor, cite ongoing legal and practical shortcomings in the government's process of identifying and protecting trafficking victims, including concerns that victims of trafficking were required to testify against their traffickers before being given protection. In 2007, the government reported 35 victims assisted in the prosecution of their traffickers. NGOs providing informal assistance to victims who served as prosecution witnesses report that these victims would not testify without the NGOs' support; the NGOs also report that some identified and sheltered victims are subjected to threats from their traffickers. There are continued reports that many victims remain unidentified and incarcerated in detention centers, and ultimately subject to deportation charges. During 2007, the government renewed 63 residence permits for trafficking victims. In 2007, for the first time, Greek police notified NGOs before conducting raids on locations with suspected trafficking victims, and NGOs facilitated identification and referral for the women to appropriate services. The government also added one NGO to its 2005 Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC). These were positive developments. However, there continued to be a significant gap between the overall number of victims identified and those who receive full victim status.

There have been multiple inquires from international donors and the Albanian government regarding the 2004 agreement drafted by the Greek and Albanian government and covering the repatriation of Albanian child trafficking victims from Greece; however, the Greek government still has not ratified the agreement. The government has not provided concrete evidence that it is respecting the guidelines for the safe return of these Albanian child victims. Some NGOs allege that only a few of the children deported to Albania are actually returned to their families, and claim that many are imprisoned in Albania only to be re-trafficked to Greece later. The government has no special protections in place for child victims of trafficking; they are sheltered in orphanages or in a separate section of an adult detention center or other institutions.

Prevention

The Government of Greece sustained previous prevention efforts in 2007. The government continued to support NGOs in source countries that conduct trafficking prevention work. However, due to elections and a subsequent reorganization of a new government, Greece suspended formal inter-ministerial cooperation on trafficking for nine months of 2007. The government in 2007 failed to conduct any awareness campaigns to reduce domestic demand for commercial sex acts offered in Greece's legal sex trade; nor did it take any steps to prevent child sex tourism of its nationals traveling abroad. Greece has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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