U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Cyprus

Cyprus (Tier 2)

Cyprus is a destination country for women trafficked from Eastern and Central Europe for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Traffickers who forced women into prostitution continued to fraudulently recruit victims for work as dancers in cabarets and nightclubs on short-term "artiste" visas, for work in pubs and bars on employment visas, or for illegal work on tourist or student visas. There was increasing evidence of Chinese women being trafficked for sexual exploitation in Cyprus.

The Government of Cyprus does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Cyprus made some progress in its anti-trafficking efforts over the past year. The new police anti-trafficking unit produced successful results and showed vigilance in combating the problem. Government recognition of the problem improved, and there was a perceptible shift in awareness among officials, the press, and the public. Nevertheless, the government did little to generate public awareness about the role customers play in contributing to trafficking in Cyprus. The Government of Cyprus should immediately formalize its recently completed National Action Plan and proactively enforce its implementation. Moreover, the government should work to improve cooperation with civil society on victim protection and assistance.


In 2004, the Government of Cyprus significantly increased its anti-trafficking enforcement efforts, particularly in the area of investigations and arrests. Under its newly created Office of Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, police made 194 arrests in 91 trafficking-related cases. Additionally, police charged 20 persons with trafficking in persons and sexual exploitation. There were no trafficking-related convictions reported during the reporting period. Police conducted regular visits to cabarets and interviewed women in private, away from their places of work. In 2004, the government closed ten cabarets for operating without a license. The Government of Cyprus signed a number of anti-trafficking cooperation agreements with source countries during the reporting period.


The Government of Cyprus' efforts in the area of protection improved in 2004. The Welfare Department of the Ministry of Labor routinely ensured that victims received temporary shelter, received legal and financial assistance, and issued residence and employment permits in cases where victims cooperated in an investigation. The police identified 66 victims willing to testify against their traffickers, 47 of whom requested police protection. In 2004, the government set aside several rooms for trafficking victims in government-subsidized housing and solicited bids for the operation and construction of a permanent shelter. Notably, the government has stopped issuance of new cabaret licenses and now prohibits hiring replacements for women on artiste visas who are identified as victims and removed from cabarets. Although the government established a screening and referral process, it has yet to fully standardize it by completing its proposed handbook for handling victims.


In March 2005, the Ministry of Interior held a major press conference to publicize the release and routine distribution of a revised information pamphlet for all newly arriving female foreign workers. This pamphlet contains anti-trafficking information in an effort to prevent the exploitation of artistes. Although the anti-trafficking unit held a number of press conferences and appeared in popular media to promote its anti-trafficking activities, the government did not conduct any large-scale demand-oriented awareness campaigns. Police reported receiving an estimated 20 trafficking-related calls per week via their crime prevention hotline.


The Republic of Cyprus exercises control over the southern two-thirds of the island. The northern part of Cyprus is governed by a Turkish Cypriot administration that has declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC); it is not recognized by the United States or any other country, except Turkey. The area administered by Turkish Cypriots is a destination for women trafficked from Eastern and Central Europe for the purpose of sexual exploitation. There are indications that it is also used as a transit point for persons trafficked into forced labor into the EU. In 2004, Turkish Cypriot authorities demonstrated an increased recognition of the trafficking problem. Police reportedly investigated all complaints made by victims, and they continued their policy of holding the passports and airplane tickets of nightclub employees to prevent exploitation by employers. In 2004, 22 individuals were arrested on the grounds of living off the proceeds of prostitution, and of those, 18 cases are pending trial, while 4 were convicted. In February 2005, a social worker began interviewing newly arrived nightclub employees to verify whether their employment is voluntary or not. The police and other officials conducted regular inspections of nightclubs and bars. In 2004, 1,033 visas were issued to women working in bars and nightclubs. Notably, in 2004 the police reportedly repatriated 191 women who wished to terminate their nightclub contracts – a possible sign of trafficking. Turkish Cypriot authorities should take immediate action to strengthen prosecution efforts and stiffen penalties for perpetrators.


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