Cyprus (Tier 2 Watch List)
Cyprus is a destination country for a large number of women trafficked from countries in Eastern and Central Europe, including Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, and Russia, for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Women are also trafficked from the Philippines, the People's Republic of China, and Morocco. Traffickers continued to recruit victims under fraudulent terms for work as dancers in nightclubs with three-month "artiste" category employment permits and more limited numbers of foreign women for work in pubs under the "barmaid" employment category. According to some reports, many of the women who work in nightclubs in Cyprus are victims trafficked for sexual exploitation. There were also reports of some Chinese women on student visas who may have been forced into prostitution. Reports continued of female domestic workers from India, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines forced to work excessively long hours and denied proper compensation and possibly subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude.
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. The Government of Cyprus has been placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a second consecutive year because it again failed to pass revised anti-trafficking legislation and did not open a long-promised trafficking shelter. If passed, this legislation would define and criminalize all severe forms of trafficking. The government demonstrated a strong willingness to increase its efforts by launching a number of public awareness campaigns. It also developed and distributed a victim assistance and referral handbook for all relevant government departments. However, more remains to be done. The Government of Cyprus must continue to demonstrate a credible political commitment to address trafficking by increasing serious law enforcement efforts and increasing the number of traffickers convicted and sentenced to time in prison. Moreover, Cyprus must pass its pending new comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; abolish or greatly restrict use of the "artiste" category work permit; and provide more dedicated resources for the protection of trafficking victims, including a government-provided shelter. The government should also continue to develop and implement a more comprehensive demand reduction public awareness campaign.
The Government of Cyprus showed some progress in its law enforcement efforts. Cyprus' 2000 anti-trafficking law criminalizes trafficking for sexual exploitation; a separate law enacted in 2003 prohibits forced labor. Prosecutors utilize the anti-trafficking law and trafficking-related statues to prosecute traffickers for sexual exploitation. Penalties prescribed for both sexual exploitation and forced labor range up to 20 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other grave crimes. Police increased the number of trafficking investigations from 47 cases in 2005 to 60 cases in 2006. Authorities prosecuted 40 cases for trafficking and obtained convictions of 20 traffickers. Courts imposed penalties ranging from nominal fines to two years' imprisonment to these 20 convicted traffickers. These punishments, however, should be strengthened to more effectively deter trafficking in persons. During the year, the police investigated at least three police officers for possible trafficking-related corruption; one official was prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to 14 months' imprisonment.
The Government of Cyprus demonstrated limited improvements in its efforts to protect and assist victims; however, overall efforts remained inadequate. Although the government made ready its long-promised, government-run victim shelter, the facility was not opened due to delays in hiring qualified staff. However, the Anti-TIP Police Unit actively referred victims to an NGO-run shelter. These referral mechanisms are based on procedures outlined in a handbook on victim identification and referral procedures distributed to relevant government agencies and NGOs in February 2007. The Social Welfare Department provided 99 foreign victims with short-term shelter and other forms of assistance. The Ministry of Justice and Public Order provided approximately $22,700 to an NGO-run shelter during the reporting period. Fifty-nine of the 79 trafficking victims identified in 2006 assisted in investigations and prosecutions. Some foreign women who do not cooperate with authorities may be deported with no legal alternatives to removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. Cyprus does not have a reflection period for victims; pending comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation will establish a reflection period. The rights of trafficking victims were generally observed; however, police initially attempted to arrest some later-identified victims in order to keep them in the country to testify against their traffickers.
The government demonstrated increased efforts to prevent trafficking and raise awareness during the reporting period. Although the government did not abolish the "artiste" work permit category, it continued to reduce the number of "artiste" permits issued in 2006. The Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance distributed Greek and English-language brochures to all non-EU temporary workers entering Cyprus. Police printed and distributed 10,000 trafficking awareness fliers during community policing activities. A government-funded NGO public awareness campaign distributed 15,000 fliers and 1,000 posters on streets, college campuses, and in government offices. The Ministry of Interior also distributed 50,000 anti-trafficking fliers and 800 posters across the island and aired UN public service announcements on trafficking on the state-run television station, beginning in March 2007.
Area Administered by Turkish Cypriots
The northern area of Cyprus is administered by Turkish Cypriots; the area has declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC"). The United States does not recognize the "TRNC," nor does any other country except Turkey.
The area administered by Turkish Cypriots is a destination for women trafficked from countries in Eastern and Central Europe, including Moldova, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Georgia, and Belarus, for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.
The area administered by Turkish Cypriots does not have a law that specifically prohibits trafficking in persons, and authorities continue to confuse trafficking with smuggling. All potential trafficking cases were tried on the charges of "living off the earnings of prostitution" or "encouraging prostitution." Persons convicted under these laws can receive up to two years' imprisonment. This is not commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, such as rape. The authorities did not provide trafficking-specific law enforcement data for the reporting period. In 2006, 961 "artiste" and 15 "barmaid" work permits were issued to women working in 41 nightclubs and 9 pubs, and as of February 2007, 381 foreign women were working in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots. In 2006, authorities repatriated 235 women who wished to curtail their nightclub contracts. Police corruption remained a concern. The anti-trafficking hotline established in 2005 does not adequately refer victims for assistance. Turkish Cypriot authorities should take proactive steps to train law enforcement and other front-line responders on victim identification techniques, including the key exploitative difference between trafficking and smuggling. Authorities should draft legislation that specifically prohibits all severe forms of trafficking.