Ministries join dots to prevent people trafficking

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Ministers of Justice and Labour said they had zero tolerance for human trafficking, signing a cooperation framework to better protect those exploited.

Justice Minister Stephie Dracos, Labour Minister Kyriacos Koushos and Deputy Minister of Social Welfare Anastasia Anthousi signed on Wednesday a framework of Memoranda of Cooperation aimed at combating the phenomenon and supporting the victims.

A Memorandum of Cooperation between the Cyprus Police and the Department of Labour Inspection Service to prevent and combat human trafficking in labour exploitation was signed.

The second Memorandum between police and Social Welfare Services involved the handling, protection, and information of victims of human trafficking.

The three ministers underlined the necessity for interdepartmental coordination and cooperation for more effectively managing incidents of exploitation and trafficking in persons.

Dracos said the goal of signing the memoranda sends a resounding message that the state has zero tolerance for this type of crime.

“Our goal for the elimination of trafficking is lasting and remains unchanged… it’s an extreme form of exploitation and instrumentalisation of victims that offends fundamental human rights, our values and our culture.”

Last year there were nine convictions for trafficking, of which four had to do with labour exploitation.

Koushos said that the cooperation of the three ministries takes a new form through the memoranda.

“The departments of our ministries will be able to cooperate with specific procedures with the sole aim of combating the offence of human trafficking.”

Anthousi said a coordinated approach is required to deal effectively with and protect victims.

“For the record, in 2022, the Social Welfare Services were called and assisted in 123 reports and handled potential victims of trafficking, offering personalised support as needed”.

The Chief of Police, Stelios Papatheodorou, welcomed the signing and said that it falls to the police to implement them to the maximum extent possible.

“Cases of this nature are very difficult to prove in court and require much coordination.”