U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Greece

Greece (Tier 3)

[*Please note: Greece was updated to Tier 2 per President George W. Bush, Presidential Determination No. 2003-35, September 9, 2003.]

Greece is a destination and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. According to a government source, as many as 18,000 people were trafficked to Greece in 2002. Major countries of origin include Albania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. Women from Asia, Africa and other countries are also trafficked to Greece, and in some cases are reportedly trafficked on to Cyprus, Turkey, and the Middle East. Child trafficking is a problem. While sources in Greece find that child trafficking has decreased, the problem persists and Albanian children are known to make up the majority of children trafficked for forced labor, begging, and stealing. Children from the Greek Roma community are also trafficked for labor.

The Government of Greece does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The government showed a shift in political will to address trafficking through its recent comprehensive legislation on sex trafficking. However, the government has not yet effectively enforced the law. Victim assistance mechanisms have not yet been implemented and NGO cooperation remains weak. Moreover, trafficked children are reportedly treated by Greek authorities as either criminals or illegal aliens. One report claims that trafficked children are summarily arrested, deported and then dropped off and abandoned along the Albania-Greece border.


The Government of Greece did not conduct widespread prevention campaigns. It did allow public space for a six week-long anti-slavery poster exhibition to raise awareness, and an anti-trafficking campaign on state-owned television. The government also funded a public service announcement which ran on seven Greek radio stations to educate the public about the problem, and funded one NGO in the amount of US $125,000 to create an anti-TIP campaign. The government did not sponsor prevention activities in source countries during the reporting period. The government's new anti-trafficking legislation offers preventive strategies, but they are broad and at present, neither developed nor implemented. The government increased the number of border control agents.


In October of 2002, the government passed new anti-trafficking legislation to criminalize and punish traffickers, as well as develop victim support, but there is no provision for labor trafficking. There have not been any prosecutions or convictions under the law's criminal provisions, which became immediately effective upon passage last October. There were approximately 140 trafficking-related arrests under the new law, but there is no data yet on convictions. Lack of progress on arrests limits the ability to measure overall effectiveness of the new law. Prosecution of traffickers is limited due to a slow and inefficient judicial system. A training module on trafficking is given to new police recruits as part of their introductory training, while more senior police attend a five-day seminar on trafficking issues. Some NGOs report that local police are still often complicit and bribed by sex club owners. The Pan Hellenic Confederation of Police Officers publicly acknowledged the involvement of the police in networks that traffick women. To date, there are no convictions of police officers complicit in human trafficking. With the exception of regional working groups, bilateral engagement to date is poor with source countries such as Bulgaria, Albania and Moldova.


The provisions of the new anti-trafficking law outlining victim protection and assistance await a presidential decree, which is expected to be signed by the necessary ministers and published in June 2003. Minors trafficked into Greece for the purpose of forced labor and sexual exploitation are often detained by police as criminals. Those under 12 years old are placed in reception centers, while those as young as 13 have been put in jail for begging or illegal immigration. According to one NGO, the Greek government detains and deports children in groups and returns them to the Albanian border without ensuring their reception by Albanian authorities, nor their protection from re-trafficking. Child authorities in Thessaloniki reported the assisted repatriation of 191 trafficked children – between the ages of 5-17 years; however, few cases were reportedly conducted with advance notice to prepare the families and transport them safely. Some reports say that children were deported with less than 24 hours notice and without sufficient coordination on both sides of the border. To date, there are neither referral systems for victim assistance nor shelters for trafficked victims. The government reported that 62 victims were liberated from traffickers, and some of them were placed in battered women's shelters. In general, temporary residence is legally allowed to victims who agree to testify against their traffickers, but only at the discretion of the prosecutor. Illegal aliens are deported, regardless of trafficking victim status. The government's financial commitment to develop and implement the provisions of the new anti-trafficking law on victim support, such as shelters, medical and psychological assistance and protections from police detention and immediate deportation, awaits the presidential decree.


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