Cyprus Mail

People smuggling ‘requires our immediate attention’, says minister

Υπουργός Δικαιοσύνης, Υπουργός Υγε

International human trafficking “is a global phenomenon which requires our immediate attention”, Justice Minister Anna Procopiou said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the CrimEx and EMJnet meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean justice programme held in Larnaca, Prokopiou said the issue requires immediate attention “not only because of the legal complexities faced by judicial authorities when investigating such cases, but also because of its humanitarian dimension”.

She said Cyprus has been “strongly impacted” by the issue, and that the wider Mediterranean region is a “hotspot” for such activities “due to its geographical proximity to Africa, the Middle East, and southern Europe”.

“Cyprus has become a hotspot and a desired destination for undocumented migrants seeking asylum and a way out to the European Union,” she said.

She added that “organised criminal networks active in human trafficking are taking advantage” of the island’s division.

“Organised crime groups gather migrants from various countries in the Middle East and Africa and take them to Turkey, before pushing them into the Republic of Cyprus,” she said.

She said this happens as people are transported via the north and then enter the Republic via the buffer zone before seeking asylum in Cyprus.

Police and judicial authorities “face enormous obstacles and challenges” in their efforts to combat this issue, she said, adding that discussions at the meeting will “focus on the exchange of experience, knowledge, and proposals for solutions to the issue.”

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