An international organisation has estimated that there are around 4,700 people in slavery in Cyprus, which is regarded as a high prevalence compared to population size, though the island scored average rankings when it came to its its vulnerability to the phenomenon, and also when it came to the state’s response.
The index was compiled by the Walk Free Foundation and covers 167 countries.
The prevalence of people enslaved in Cyprus stood at 0.4 per cent, putting the island joint fifth in Europe with Romania, Greece, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Serbia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
In terms of comparison, Luxembourg with a population of around 560,000 averaged in at 0.018 per cent, or 100 possible people enslaved. Norway with the same prevalence and a population of around five million, has an estimated 900 slaves, both of which are extremely low compared to Cyprus’ 4,700 to a population of around one million.
Other countries in Europe least likely to have a high number of people enslaved in relations to their respective populations included Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, UK, Ireland, France and Germany.
In rating the vulnerability of a country to slavery, researchers looked at civil and political protections, social and health rights and personal security. Almost all of the countries exhibited vulnerabilities, being scored anything from just under 20 out of 100 and up. Cyprus scored 27 out of 100, the average across the EU.
State responses were measured in terms of survivor support, the rating of the criminal justice system and the government’s assessment of the risk that people could find themselves as slaves. Cyprus was rated BB in the latter along with most European countries such as Germany, France and Denmark. Only the Netherlands scored an A for government response followed by the US with BBB* and the UK with a BBB.
Europe as a whole is estimated to have 2.7 per cent of those enslaved around the world – over 1.2 million people.
According to the Walk Free Foundation, which conducted 42,000 interviews in 53 languages, covering 44 per cent of global population, 45.8 million people are enslaved across the world. It said the index was the most accurate up-to-date analysis of slavery in history.
The Foundation’s Andrew Forrest called on top ten economies of the world to enact laws to ensure all organisations are held accountable for modern slavery in their supply chains
India remains the country with highest absolute number of people in slavery at 18.3 million.
Modern slavery exists in all 167 countries covered by the Global Slavery Index. North Korea has the highest incidence of modern slavery (4.37 per cent of population) and weakest government response. The strongest action is being taken by the Netherlands, the US, the UK, Sweden and Australia in that order.
“Despite having the lowest regional prevalence of modern slavery in the world, Europe remains a destination, and to a lesser extent, a source region for the exploitation of men, women and children in forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation, the Foundation said.
EU citizens account for 65 per cent of identified trafficked victims within Europe. These individuals mostly originate from Eastern Europe, including Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia. Non-EU trafficked victims are predominantly from Nigeria, China and Brazil. Forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation remain the most commonly reported forms of modern slavery in Europe.
Within the cases that have been formally identified by EU authorities, the largest proportion of registered human trafficking victims were female, approximately 80 per cent of all victims. Romanian nationals, particularly women, accounted for most of the trafficked victims, with many subject to commercial sexual exploitation within Europe. Romanian women and girls are reportedly recruited by acquaintances, friends or relatives, sometimes with violence.
Cases of forced labour have been reported across Europe in agriculture, forestry, fishery, construction, catering, the textile industry, domestic work and other sectors. In the UK, of 3,266 adult and child victims identified in 2015, some 1,183 experienced some form of labour exploitation.
Forrest said: “Leaders of the world’s major economies must bring the power of business to this issue, by requiring a focus on supply chain transparency. Businesses that don’t actively look for forced labour within their supply chains are standing on a burning platform. Business leaders who refuse to look into the realities of their own supply chains are misguided and irresponsible.”