Justice Minister Anna Procopiou on Wednesday said Cyprus is ready to work alongside international partners in revising European legislation aimed at combatting migrant smuggling.
Procopiou took part in the inaugural International Conference on a Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling in Brussels.
The conference was chaired by the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and served as a kick-off meeting to spur international cooperation between countries, both within and outside the European Union, in addressing the evolving scenario regarding migratory issues.
During her speech, Procopiou proposed a focus on strict criminal consequences for traffickers and highlighted the potential of technology in providing accurate information to potential victims of illegal trafficking, deterring perilous journeys.
She further emphasised the importance of close international cooperation among all countries, whether they are countries of origin, transit, or destination.
The minister also referred to the harnessing of illegal migration flows, and the challenges Cyprus faces due to the Turkish occupation. She presented to the participants the way and extent to which Cyprus is affected by illegal migrant trafficking, both through the occupied areas by Turkey and through the sea from Syria and Lebanon.
As a preventative measure, Procopiou suggested a focus on strict criminal consequences for traffickers and the utilisation of the support offered by the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust).
She also underlined the need to leverage technology, repeatedly proven to be exploited by trafficking networks for communication and promotion of their illegal services.
Finally, she stressed the Republic’s readiness to collaborate with its European and international partners in combatting migrant smuggling.
During the conference, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen also underlined the significance of establishing a global alliance as a mechanism to establish an official exchange of opinions on the matter. She highlighted the new legislative proposal promoted by the European Commission as essential initiatives, considering the increasingly urgent need for effective combat against the serious and organised transnational crime of illegal migrant smuggling.
The conference was also attended by European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović, Frontex Executive Director Hans Leijtens, as well as justice ministries’ representatives from Italy, Belgium, Montenegro, Colombia, Lithuania, Egypt, and Nigeria.