With figures showing that 50 per cent of human trafficking victims in the EU are European nationals, additional laws are required to combat the practice, the House human rights committee said on Monday in a meeting with the EU anti-trafficking coordinator, Myria Vassiliadou.
“Cyprus has made a lot of progress in the fight against the phenomenon, though we still have a long road ahead, especially in terms of the trying of cases which are often delayed in the courts for long periods of time,” Disy MP Mariella Aristidou said.
As a result, many cases are dropped as victims either flee the country or get too scared to testify.
“This is mainly due to a lack of laws and regulations criminalising certain actions on behalf of the perpetrators,” she said. “We will move forward by drafting legislation which will effectively punish the guilty.”
Akel MP Skevi Koukouma said that the issue was both complicated and dangerous and that the EU should focus on drawing up a new strategy.
Koukouma said the EU has recorded 20,532 victims of trafficking but the true figure was much higher.
“It’s impossible that in the 27 EU countries there are only so many victims, while only 3,000 convictions have been made from the 6,000 total prosecutions,” Koukouma said, adding that EU members have not adopted policies which seek to locate victims, report cases and lead perpetrators to justice.
In Cyprus legislation was amended in 2014 but Koukouma said there had not been “any moves on the part of police for the location of victims or human traffickers, as the legislation provides”.
While the EU offered funds for cases relating to trafficking, Koukouma said, Cyprus had not taken as much as it could have, calling on the government to examine the ways in which it could make better use of available funds.
Diko MP Christiana Erotokritou said that it was shameful that 50 per cent of human trafficking victims are not third country but EU nationals.
Another shocking aspect, she said, was that one human trafficking victim could earn the trafficker or trader €250,000 annually.
Erotokritou added that figures of human trafficking in Cyprus resemble the mean figure of the EU.