The state-run shelter for victims of human trafficking is at full capacity, hosting around 13-15 women, the House human rights committee said on Monday.
“There were periods in the years 2011 and 2012 when the shelter remained closed as there were no victims to be accommodated. But now it is open constantly and accommodates 13-15 women, which is its maximum capacity,” Disy MP Stella Kyriakidou said after the meeting.
Members of the committee visited the shelter on October 18 and were briefed on its operation and the problems it faces, before convening on Monday to discuss issues relating to trafficking and the protection of victims in the Republic.
“In Cyprus, human trafficking has been constantly changing in recent years. While victims used to be found mostly in nightclubs,” Kyriakidou said, “they are now much harder to spot, especially when it is possible that they may have entered the country in various ways”.
These include through tourist visas, the north, or through sham marriages.
Akel MP Skevi Koukouma said that the support offered by the shelter is inadequate, mostly due to the lack of internal regulations and guidelines for the support of victims.
Another issue, Koukouma added, is the long delay in the hearing of human trafficking cases, which may reach two or three years, leading many victims to prefer to leave the country rather than to stay and testify.