THE NUMBER of people arrested for human trafficking in Cyprus is expected to triple by the end of the year, according to Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou.
In 2013, there were 34 people charged, increasing to 50 in 2014 and so far this year, police have investigated 10 cases. For one incident alone, there are 12 people facing charges.
A total of 35 victims have been found, Nicolaou said.
His statements followed the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report earlier this week that outlined Cyprus had improved its trafficking record.
Although it remains on Tier 2, it is with improved status, and this is a result of the government being determined to combat trafficking by increasing the checks on businesses, Nicolaou said.
Other EU countries with the same rating as Cyprus are Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia, he added.
“The upgrade of our country in a category should be a motive to intensify the efforts of all the services involved so we can further improve and strengthen the collective struggle to combat human trafficking,” he said.
More people have been hired in the relevant police unit, he added and the state has prioritised implementing measures to make society more sensitive to the issue.
The TIP report outlined that although Cyprus did not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, it was making significant efforts to do so.
Identified victims have almost doubled and are primarily from Eastern Europe and South Asia. In previous years, victims from Africa, Dominican Republic, and Philippines were also identified.
Trafficking occurs in private apartments and hotels, on the streets and within commercial sex trade outlets. Asylum seekers are subjected to forced labour in agriculture and domestic work, the report said.
On June 16, Cyprus signed the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.