Human trafficker arrests are increasing in Cyprus, but the sentences imposed by the courts are very low, state broadcaster Cybc reported on Wednesday.

As reported, there were three times as many arrests in 2023 compared to 2021, with a total of 263 arrests since 2021.

At the same time, a 45 per cent decrease was marked in illegal arrivals from the beginning of 2023 to today compared to the same period last year.

Despite this progress, the numbers of traffickers arrested may not be accurate, aliens and immigration assistant unit commander Petros Zenios said.

He explained that trafficker networks begin at the country of origin, mainly Syria, and collaborate with people in Lebanon, Turkey, and in the north.

“It’s hard to know exactly how many people are involved because the authorities in the north do not collaborate with us on an operational level, much like the government of Turkey,” he added.

In 2023, only eight cases were tried, for which only 12 people were convicted.

The prison sentences imposed ranged between three and 24 months, while the penal code provides for up to 15 years in prison, and/or a €150,000 fine.

There have been no cases of repeat offenders even though after serving their time, people can remain in the republic, Zenios said.

“In cases where some people are deemed to pose a threat to public order and security, we take the necessary actions to remove them from the country”.