CYPRUS (TIER 2) [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]
Cyprus is a destination country for a large number of women from Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Russia, Latin America, and the Philippines trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Recent trends indicate an increasing number of women trafficked to Cyprus from Latin America, Morocco, and Syria. Source countries for identified victims in 2008 include the Dominican Republic, Romania, Moldova, the Philippines, Uzbekistan, Syria, Russia, and Ukraine. Some trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation also occurs. In 2008, most identified victims of sex trafficking were fraudulently recruited to Cyprus on three-month “artiste” work permits to work in the cabaret industry, on “barmaid work permits” to work in pubs, or on tourist visas to work in massage parlors disguised as private apartments. Some victims are trafficked through the area administered by the Turkish Cypriots into the Republic of Cyprus-controlled areas.
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. During the reporting period, the government undertook efforts to prevent trafficking by abolishing its “artiste” category work permit, launching a country-wide general awareness campaign, and dedicating significant resources to the protection and assistance of trafficking victims. Although these steps mark important progress, future assessments of the Cypriot government’s anti-trafficking efforts will consider whether the government has demonstrated more vigorous prosecution efforts and convictions against traffickers to sufficiently punish and deter trafficking in Cyprus. Moreover, future assessments will look to whether the government has taken measures to prevent sex trafficking through misuse of the new “creative artist” and “performance artist” work permits or through an upsurge in issuances of “barmaid” work permits. The government should also implement public awareness campaigns specifically targeting “clients” that comprise the demand for sex trafficking victims.
Recommendations for Cyprus: Ensure safeguards are developed and enforced to restrict potential conduits for trafficking into Cyprus such as the “barmaid” work permits and the new “performing artist” and “creative artist” work permits; vigorously prosecute and seek convictions of trafficking offenders and officials complicit in trafficking; implement new training programs for prosecutors and judges to enhance the quality of trafficking prosecutions to ensure sufficient criminal punishments for traffickers; develop and launch a comprehensive demand reduction campaign specifically aimed at Cypriot clients of prostitution to educate them about the link between prostitution and trafficking; adopt, disseminate, and implement a practical guide outlining the identification and referral and protection of potential trafficking victims to all front-line responders; and demonstrate more consistency in providing financial support to victims.
Area Administered by
Authorities in the “TRNC” overwhelmingly deny that trafficking is a significant problem in the area, posing a significant challenge to assuring any protection for women from trafficking or the prosecution of their traffickers. “TRNC” authorities identified no trafficking victims during the reporting period.
Although the area administered by Turkish Cypriots drafted an anti-trafficking “bill” in 2007, it has yet to make any progress on this “legislation.” Awareness of trafficking somewhat increased, although the “TRNC” authorities provide no specialized training on trafficking; authorities continued to confuse trafficking with prostitution and smuggling. Trafficking crimes can potentially be prosecuted on charges of “living off the earnings of prostitution” or “encouraging prostitution.” Persons convicted under these “laws” can receive up to two years’ imprisonment. These penalties are not commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, such as rape. “TRNC” authorities reportedly prosecuted nightclub owners and pimps on prostitution-related charges, but provided no statistics on these efforts. Although there are no specific reports of local authorities’ complicity in trafficking, authorities likely tolerate such corruption due to a lack of anti-trafficking “legislation.” Authorities reportedly hold the travel documents for foreign women in the cabaret industry in the “TRNC.”
The “government” does not have specialized procedures in place to identify and refer trafficking victims or allocate any funding to anti-trafficking efforts, nor does it provide any specialized care or shelter for victims. Although prostitution is illegal in the “TRNC,” nightclub employees are required to submit to weekly health checks for STD screening, suggesting tacit “government” condoning of its prostitution industry. If arrested on prostitution charges, a victim is most likely deported within 24 hours. “TRNC” authorities did not conduct any anti-trafficking awareness campaigns during the reporting period.
The “TRNC” does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and does not appear to be making significant efforts to do so. If the “TRNC” were assigned a formal ranking in this report, it would likely be Tier 3.
Recommendations for Turkish Cypriot authorities: Pass the draft “legislation” that specifically prohibits all severe forms of trafficking; provide training for “law enforcement” and other front-line responders on victim identification techniques; establish specialized protection and assistance services and shelter; and educate clients and the larger public about trafficking occurring within the cabaret industry.