07 June, 2006
Greece has been upgraded to Tier 2 in the US State Department's 6th annual report on Trafficking in Persons worldwide (2006), which was released on Monday, up from the Tier-2 Watch List last year, while conversely, Cyprus dropped to the Tier 2-Watch List in the 2006 report, from the Tier 2 category in 2005.
The report covers the period April 2005-March 2006, and is described as a tool of the US government in combating this crime against human rights, which is described as a modern-day form of slavery, and the prosecution of perpetrators and protection of the victims.
The two-page country report on Greece notes that the Greek government is making significant efforts to eradicate human trafficking, and stresses that government "increased its capacity to protect and assist victims" in 2005, while it also improved its cooperation with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) "with the completion of a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to allow Greek authorities to work more directly with NGOs. The report further noted that "after several years of negotiations, the government signed a child repatriation agreement with Albania" for children that are victims of exploitation (for forced begging or stealing), while in 2006 it implemented a national public information campaign aimed at victims, clients and the Greek public.
The report said that the Greek government should now provide available protections to trafficking victims and ensure that NGOs have an operational role in victim identification. Noting that the government increased convictions of trafficking crimes in 2005, it called on the government to "demonstrate the political will to punish traffickers sufficiently over the next year", adding that "trafficking-related complicity by government officials should be vigorously prosecuted".
With respect to prosecution, the report said that the government of Greece "continued to investigate cases of trafficking and secured convictions for increased numbers of traffickers in 2005". It stressed that In January 2006, "the government established 12 additional anti-trafficking task forces throughout the country and funded specialized training for over one thousand police officers throughout Greece". While in 2005, it investigated 60 trafficking cases and arrested 202 suspected traffickers. The report added that the number of trafficking convictions increased, and the sentences for the convicted traffickers ranged from one to 12 years.
According to the report, "the Greek Government demonstrated leadership in promoting regional law enforcement cooperation during the reporting period".
With respect to prevention, the report noted: In 2005, the Greek Government continued to provide significant funding to NGOs and international organizations that provide programs, shelters, and legal aid to victims of trafficking. In 2006, the Secretariat General for Gender Equality implemented a national awareness campaign targeting commercial sex procurers, trafficking victims, and citizens. The campaign encourages the public to report incidents of trafficking. The government's anti-trafficking inter-ministerial committee met regularly and, in November 2005, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs established a working group between origin, transit, and destination country diplomats, NGOs, and working level government officials.
The report places the countries in three different categories, in accordance with the efforts they make to combat this international phenomenon and their compliance with the standards appearing in the relevant US legislation in the 2006 report, 26 countries are placed in the Tier 1 category, denoting full compliance with the provisions of the relevant US legislation. The second category, Tier 2, is divided into two sub-categories. The 79 Tier 2 countries are those that do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the relevant US legislation provisions but are making significant efforts to do so, while the 32 Tier 2-Watch List countries are making significant efforts but the absolute number of victims or severe forms of trafficking is very significant or increasing, or have failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year, or the determination that the country is making efforts to comply with the minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.
There are 12 countries currently in Tier 3, which is described as "countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so".
The Balkan countries and Turkey are categorized in Tier 2.
Source: Athens News Agency