HUMAN trafficking has evolved in over a decade into a complex crime that includes sexual and work exploitation, forced begging, illegal adoptions and sham marriages, the head of the task force combating the crime said on Friday, as she received a second award in as many months.
But it has not been easy as the entire police force has been obliged to evolve, just as the crime has evolved, in order to be able to identify and help victims and send criminals to jail, helping Cyprus rise up the rank of international police forces that are effectively tackling the problem.
The fight against human trafficking has moved up the priorities of the police over the years, but today recommendations from the department leading it are taken notice of and acted upon, its head, Rita Superman, said.
“Over the years, the efforts and activities of the Anti-Trafficking Unit have been supported by varying degrees by the leadership of the force,” said Superman, speaking at police headquarters on the occasion of her being presented with a medal and citation for her work.
“This is the first time that the fight against trafficking comes as a top priority in the programme of the Chief of Police and the first time that the unit’s recommendations are heeded and implemented yielding today’s results,” said Superman, in reference to the US State Department moving Cyprus to the highest Tier 1 status in recognition of the government’s efforts to combat human trafficking.
She said that an award received from US Secretary of State John Kerry and Friday’s honors from the police gave her the same sense of responsibility to continue effective work in the field of combating trafficking.
Superman explained how the crime of human trafficking changed face over the last decade.
“In 2005 when I took office at the unit, we were talking more about trafficking for sexual exploitation. Through the years, we see this crime has changed, taking a multidimensional form. Today, we have to deal with trafficking for the purpose of work exploitation, trafficking where people beg in the streets, trafficking for illegal adoptions, for marriages and trafficking for the purpose of committing other criminal activities.”
Superman said she believed that the whole spectrum was a trigger for continuous training, to gain expertise and action in international affairs so that the police could recognise and address the phenomenon. She put down the achievements of the unit to the humanitarian approach to police work.
“The unit has developed the sensitivity to be able to recognise the victims of trafficking, and on the other hand developed the policing skills to be able to carry out the police work and present the suspects before courts. This is not an easy thing and not encountered in many forces in the world.”
She said she felt proud to be a member of the Cyprus Police which she considered a university, where she took the opportunity to try and evolve the best she could and expressed the view that the development of the force was exclusively due to personal interest shown by its members.
Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou, congratulating Superman on her achievements, said, “I wholeheartedly thank Superman, who makes us proud, not only for the award which is essentially the culmination of many years of efforts, but primarily for her remarkable action and unflagging zeal and devotion.”