Wikileaks - LXIII

Friday, 02 September, Year 3 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu
    "55007","3/2/2006 12:34","06NICOSIA313","Embassy Nicosia","UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY","06NICOSIA313|06SECSTATE3836","VZCZCXRO5098
    DE RUEHNC #0313/01 0611234
    O 021234Z MAR 06



    E.O. 12958: N/A

    REF: SECSTATE 3836

1. This message is sensitive but unclassified--not/not for Internet distribution.

2. (SBU) Embassy Nicosia hereby submits information for the March 2005-March 2006 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. Embassy point of contact is Bridget Alway, Political Section, Tel: (357) 22-39-3545, Fax (357) 22-39-3467. Approximately 80 hours (FSO-03) and 55 hours (FSN) were spent in preparing this material.

3. (SBU) Overview Questions:
A. Cyprus is largely a destination country for trafficked women working in the sex industry. There is evidence from the government, however, that in 2004 at least some women transited Cyprus to Lebanon and Syria after entering to work as \"artistes\" in cabarets. Estimates on the number of victims are difficult to obtain; no official figures exist. The following statistics may help shed some light. Among the 42 women who cooperated with Police during 2005, 21 were Ukrainian, 10 were Moldavian, six were Russian, one was Romanian, two were Bulgarian, and two were Philippine. Among the 57 victims who sought shelter at a Limassol shelter founded by a Cypriot Orthodox priest serving the Russian community (some of whom were referred by the police), 30 were Ukrainian, 11 were Moldavian, nine were Russian, three were Philippine, two were Belarussian, and two were Dominican. The Government reported that 4,000 \"artiste\" visas were issued during 2005 (but the Government reported that the number of women who actually came to Cyprus was less due to multiple entries) and that 458 visas were issued to women to work in pubs. The Government said there were 80 cabarets and 56 nightclubs in operation, 10 of which operated without any license. Also during the reporting period, 42 victims either testified or pressed charges against their traffickers/employers. The immigration police reported that women are rotated between cabarets in different cities throughout Cyprus. There were also reports of trafficking in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, north of the green line, which is outside of the government\'s control. Septel will provide information on TIP issues on the Turkish Cypriot side. The Welfare Department handled the cases of 36 women who also stayed in government-run temporary shelters. One NGO reported cases of labor exploitation that may be related to trafficking (see 3, B). There were no reports of children being trafficked. The sources of available information on trafficking in persons are various NGOs that provide services to victims, the Police, the Ministry of Interior, the Welfare Services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This year the government awarded a grant to an NGO to carry out research on trafficking, but the project has not yet begun. The Limassol shelter founded by a Cypriot Orthodox priest serving the Russian community reported that typically victims belonged to one of two categories: women in their early 20s or women in their late 30s. There were no reports of men or children being trafficked. There continued to be reports of women coming to Cyprus on student visas from China who engage in prostitution and in some cases find themselves victims of sexual exploitation.

B. Since the last TIP report, arrests and police raids declined and therefore press coverage of TIP did as well. Despite this, there is political will to address trafficking at the highest levels of Government. The Ambassador met with NICOSIA 00000313 002 OF 008 the Minister of Interior to discuss the issue and was assured that the Ministry met regularly with agency partners to ensure that elements of Cyprus\'s national action plan to combat trafficking would materialize soon. By the end of the reporting period, however, the Government had not completed any part of the national action plan. According to victims, journalists, NGOs, the Police and the Welfare Department, women are trafficked to Cyprus primarily for the purposes of prostitution and nude dancing. The most common methods of forced compliance are withholding salary and travel documents, threat of deportation, and restriction of movement and association. Women have reported that they have been forced to have sex with clients and cabaret owners. The Limassol shelter founded by a Cypriot Orthodox priest serving the Russian community (please protect) reported there were rare cases of women coming on altered passports. The women say they normally paid $200-250 to their impresarios to obtain passports if they did not already have one, but if an altered passport was obtained, the cost was $1,000. There are also credible reports in which women from the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka who come to Cyprus to work as domestic household help are forced to work excessively long hours and are denied proper compensation and benefits. NGOs and the press have reported that employers in private businesses (restaurants, furniture workshops) have withheld pay (in at least one case, for years) and threatened migrants working illegally. Some of these employers reportedly facilitated the migrants\' entry into Cyprus on work permits that were unrelated to the work they would actually be doing.

C. The government does not lack resources for providing resources to aid victims. While officials from the ministries of Interior and Labor and Social Welfare and the Police do take advantage of regional TIP training, all relevant government departments complained of a lack of funding, staffing and training to help them address anti-trafficking efforts. The press reported police corruption and involvement in the sex industry (see also 5, K).

D. Anti-trafficking efforts on prosecution and victim protection are monitored by one full-time officer and one part-time officer, who make up the Office of Combating Trafficking in Human Beings at police headquarters. The full-time officer\'s assessments were communicated to the embassy in a February meeting.

A. The Government acknowledges that trafficking is a problem and is committed to combating it.

B. The ministries of Interior, Labor and Social Welfare, Justice and Public Order (police), and Commerce, Industry and Tourism as well as the Attorney General\'s office have oversight on TIP. The Ministry of Interior has been appointed the \"guardian\" of Cyprus\'s National Action Plan to combat trafficking and takes the lead in coordinating efforts.

C. There have been no government-run anti-trafficking information and education campaigns. The Ministry of Justice has provided $10,000 (CYP 5,000) to an NGO, however, to conduct a campaign consisting of 1,000 posters and 15,000 leaflets aimed at educating the public, and more specifically, at educating those who provide the demand for trafficking. The campaign is scheduled to begin in March NICOSIA 00000313 003 OF 008 2006. The Ministry of Interior reported that in addition to this, it is preparing to conduct an information campaign with materials provided by the Council of Europe. As part of the national action plan, authorities have also prepared an informative leaflet for those entering Cyprus on work permits (separate from the leaflet produced last year for \"artistes\"), but it has not yet been translated from Greek, printed or distributed. Police maintain that their crime-prevention hotline continued to receive an increased number of TIP-related calls, and said that they continue to issue press releases each time an arrest related to trafficking is made. They also appeared on one television talk show during the reporting period to discuss trafficking.

D. The Government is not involved in any other prevention programs.

F. During the year the Government had only limited interaction with NGOs and civil society organizations working on TIP. The Government reported that it provided approximately $8 million (CYP 4m) to NGOs that run welfare programs (for programs other than trafficking). Civil society organizations complained that the Government was not proactive in helping victims and denounced some officials as hypocritical for having ties to cabarets and their owners. During the year the administrator of the Limassol shelter founded by a Cypriot Orthodox priest serving the Russian community (please protect) alleged that she was threatened with deportation (though she is a Cypriot citizen) by the former police chief because the shelter was \"causing problems for the police.\" Despite this, the full-time officer in the Police\'s Office of Combating Trafficking in Human Beings gave informal referrals to the shelter. Members of the Green party also participated in a nascent NGO coalition against trafficking.

G. The immigration police do not monitor immigration and emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking. At ports of entry, authorities screen for illegal immigrants. Immigration Police closely monitor the entry of non-EU citizens. The GOC exercises no control over any entry points in north Cyprus, however. While the ROC maintains that it is illegal to enter Cyprus through its entry points in the north, the EU and other third country nationals do so without fear of prosecution. There are also numerous cases of persons crossing the \"Green Line\" to enter the ROC illegally from north Cyprus without visas. The Police maintain that due to their regular inspections of all cabarets and bars, none of the women working in such establishments are in Cyprus without the proper visa.

H. See also 3, B. The Ministry of Interior meets regularly with the various Government agencies that have anti-trafficking responsibilities. The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Interior is the single point of contact on trafficking. The Government does not have a public corruption task force.

J. On May 12, 2005, the Council of Ministers approved a national action plan to combat trafficking drafted by a \"Group of Experts\" with input from the ministries of Interior, Labor and Social Insurance, Commerce, Industry and Tourism and Justice and Public Order, the Attorney General\'s Office, the Ombudsman and NGOs. The Ministry of Interior was appointed coordinator of this national action plan. The plan was not subsequently passed into law by Parliament, but it includes provisions for this draft and the adoption of specific legislation. NICOSIA 00000313 004 OF 008

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A. No new legislation has been enacted since the last TIP report. Over the last year the Government has been revising draft legislation on aliens and immigration and trafficking that would abolish the \"artiste\" visa, bring current legislation into harmony with the European Acquis Communautaire (including by expanding the definition of trafficking beyond sex trafficking), and tighten the criteria for working as an employment agent or \"impresario\" in Cyprus. At the end of the reporting period this legislation had not been introduced to parliament. Current legislation is a January 2000 law based on 1997 EU regulations that makes it a felony to engage in the sexual exploitation and trafficking of adults (with or without their consent) and children. There is no specific law against trafficking for non-sexual purposes. However, strong legislation against forced labor exists. The law does not address internal vs. external trafficking. It is illegal to procure a woman for the purpose of prostitution. The law is applicable even in cases with supposed consent by victims. The law also says that victims have the right to file civil law suits against anyone responsible for their exploitation, and it holds those responsible liable to pay special and general compensation covering all costs incurred by the victim, including repatriation. The civil court may also order the payment of punitive compensation based on the extent of exploitation suffered.

B. The 2000-anti-trafficking law obligates the state to provide protection and support for victims and provides punishment of up to 15 years for cases involving adult victims and 20 years for cases involving child victims. Accessories in trafficking cases can be punished by fines of 10,000 Cyprus pounds and/or ten years imprisonment. There is no law specific to trafficking for labor exploitation.

C. The penalties for rape or forcible sexual assault include up to life in prison. Attempted rape is punishable with up to 10 years in prison. D. It is illegal to live on the proceeds of prostitution or to procure a woman for the purpose of prostitution, thus criminalizing the activities of brothel owners and pimps. Voluntary prostitution, however, is not specifically forbidden under Cypriot law. The police maintain that prostitutes are not arrested on the grounds of the above law, and we have no information to the contrary. NGOs report that Police often cite a lack of evidence as a reason for not being able to prosecute cabaret owners on charges of living on the proceeds of prostitution.

E. There was a decrease in arrests on the grounds of crimes related to prostitution and sexual exploitation (the following statistics include the sexual exploitation of minors unrelated to trafficking). In 2005, there were 47 new cases involving 74 people (compared to last year\'s 91 cases and 194 arrests). Of these, the courts found the accused in five cases guilty of living on the earnings of prostitution, those in four cases were acquitted, two cases were \"otherwise disposed of,\" two cases were classified as \"non-existing,\" one case was filed as \"nolle-prosequi,\" one case was dismissed, six were under investigation at the end of the reporting period, and the rest were pending trial in court. In addition, during the reporting period Police charged 62 people with trafficking in human beings for sexual NICOSIA 00000313 005 OF 008 exploitation directly (compared to last year\'s 28). Information on the status of these cases at the end of the reporting period was not available (Police reported in October that all cases were still pending trial).

F. See also 3, A. Victims of trafficking at the Limassol shelter say they were recruited in their home countries by local \"agents\" looking for dancers, but some also responded to Internet advertisements. They traveled alone on \"artiste\" visas and were met at the airport by local \"impresarios.\" These generally unlicensed impresarios reportedly work on contract for a legitimate employment agent who is licensed by the state. It is allegedly this principal agent who signs the women\'s travel documents and work contracts. The victims indicate that \"impresarios\" are usually Cypriots, but sometimes are third-country nationals in Cyprus working at cabarets or for international companies. Police and NGOs both report that former \"artistes\" who have married Cypriots often work with their husbands or even their previous employers to recruit women from their home countries.

G. NGOs reported that the Government was less active in investigating cases of trafficking this year. Many said that police told them they no longer needed women to provide testimony for evidence because police officers participating in undercover sting operations could provide testimony instead. Cypriot courts, however, generally do not allow evidence obtained through undercover investigations or wiretapping operations. Police maintained that they continued to actively encourage women in these cases to testify.

H. The Police reported that TIP training is a required unit in the curriculum of all criminal investigation department training. They also said that officers continue to attend training sessions overseas with INTERPOL, EUROPOL and CEPOL.

I. The Government has international cooperative agreements with Greece, Russia, Syria, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Estonia, Lebanon and Ukraine (the latter five were signed in 2004). Police cooperated in five international trafficking investigations during the reporting period and occasionally responded to letters of rogatory for foreign investigations. The Government does not, however, cooperate with the authorities in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots in investigating or prosecuting any trafficking cases.

J. Individuals charged under the trafficking law are subject to the relevant extradition treaties. The Cyprus Constitution currently bars the extradition of Cypriot citizens, but the parliament is considering possible legislation to amend this so that Cypriots could be extradited to other EU countries.

K. In January the press reported a series of incidents exposing police corruption that resulted in officers being charged with extortion, \"illegal possession and trafficking of explosive devices,\" abuse of power, solicitation of prostitution, conspiracy to commit a crime, maintaining a brothel, pimping and living off immoral earnings. In one case, a foreign national contacted a police officer for help in deporting his wife. In response, the officer, along with a colleague, allegedly blackmailed the man into paying them approximately $30,000 and forced him to transport a package that turned out to be a pipe bomb. In another case, a police raid interrupted a police officer committing a sex act in a brothel of which he was allegedly a part-owner. The brothel apparently solicited customers by placing advertisements in NICOSIA 00000313 006 OF 008 newspapers. Finally, a police officer offered a ride home from a pub to a Bulgarian woman and then allegedly forced her to perform oral sex in his car. NGOs alleged that defense lawyers for cabaret owners accepted payment for their services in the form of women from the cabarets.

L. The cases mentioned above are still under investigation. The Government has formed an independent body to investigate complaints against the police. Some political parties have criticized the body\'s independence since it includes a former senior police officer. The parliament is considering a proposal to create an Internal Affairs Department in the police.

M. N/A

N. (i) The ILO Convention 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor was ratified by the GOC on November 27, 2000. (ii) ILO Conventions 29 and 105 on Forced or Compulsory Labor have been ratified by the GOC since 1960. (iii) In 2001, the GOC signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, but the Government has yet to ratify it. (iv) The protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime was signed by the GOC in December 2000 and ratified August 2003.

A. Under the 2000 trafficking law, the GOC is required to protect individuals bringing trafficking complaints. This includes providing shelter as well as medical and psychiatric care until victims recover from any traumatic experience. Persons convicted of trafficking may be required by the court to pay the above costs. The Government has assigned the Office of Social Welfare the responsibility of advising and giving counsel to victims. This office is still preparing the \"Manual of Interdepartmental Procedures for Handling Cases of Victims of Trafficking\" begun last year. The Welfare services provided shelter for recognized victims in subsidized homes for the elderly for up to three weeks. The GOC had secured the lease on a permanent shelter for victims in the city of Limassol, but the owner of the building recently reneged on the contract. The government is currently seeking another location.

B. During this reporting period the Government awarded a contract to an NGO to operate the aforementioned shelter, but the NGO declined, citing inadequate staff and training to operate the shelter. See also 4,C.

C. There is no standard screening and referral process.

D. See also question 6, A. Women who leave a cabaret have the right to stay in Cyprus and receive shelter, financial and legal assistance on a long-term basis only if they agree to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of a former employer/trafficker. If a woman cooperates with the Police, she cannot be jailed or detained. A woman who is arrested for practicing prostitution on her own may be deported on the grounds of having violated her visa terms. NICOSIA 00000313 007 OF 008

E. The Government reported that it encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers. NGOs alleged, however, that police did not encourage victims to testify. During the reporting period, the police identified 55 victims, of whom 42 were willing to testify against their exploiters. In 2005, police reported that none asked for police protection. Victims may sue their traffickers for damages in civil courts once the traffickers are convicted in criminal courts. A victim may remain in Cyprus and seek alternate employment only if she is assisting an investigation or prosecution. A victim may leave Cyprus while participating in an investigation if she is willing to return to testify once the case goes to court. If a woman files a complaint against her employer, the spirit of the anti-trafficking law is that authorities should immediately relocate her, put her in a \"witness protection program\" and assist her financially while they work to prosecute her trafficker/employer. If she does not want to testify, these protections are not always implemented.

F. See also 6,A. The Government provides shelter, financial assistance and legal/psychological counseling to victims/witnesses. Currently there is no permanent shelter, but the Government set aside rooms in three government subsidized homes for the elderly, where victims could stay for up to three weeks. There were no child victims reported during the year.

G. During the reporting period, the Government sent 15 employees of the Welfare Services for specialized training in Italy. While there, social workers toured shelters and discussed counseling methods used with trafficking victims. According to the Welfare Department, the Government does not provide training on protection assistance to its embassies and consulates in source countries.

H. Cyprus is not a source country.

I. There is one civil society-run shelter in Limassol directed by Father Savvas Michaelides, a Cypriot Orthodox priest serving the Russian community. As mentioned above, the shelter has disagreements with the police, and both Father Michaelides and the shelter\'s administrator (please protect) were summoned to police stations twice during the reporting period for questioning. (Note: During the reporting period this shelter did not receive funds from the Government.) The shelter has ties to the international NGO La Strada. No international NGOs that work on trafficking are based in Cyprus, and no other local NGOs work exclusively on TIP.

6. TIP HERO Father Savvas Michaelides, a Cypriot Orthodox priest appointed by the Bishop of Limassol to serve the Russian community in Cyprus, founded a shelter for victims of trafficking in 2004. The shelter is run through an NGO entitled Stigma Organization, and is headed by a board of directors. Fr. Savvas and one administrator run the shelter with financial assistance from the Church of Cyprus (notably through the donation of the shelter premises) and private donations. While Fr. Savvas solicits donations from the Russian community, he personally provides the majority of the shelter\'s funding for daily operations despite his limited personal financial resources. In 2005, the shelter served 57 victims. This year Stigma Organization was the only NGO in Cyprus that provided victims with shelter, support and repatriation assistance. In addition to running the shelter, NICOSIA 00000313 008 OF 008 Fr. Savvas is a vocal advocate in support of victims of trafficking. He attends seminars (including those organized by the U.S. and other embassies) and makes his views known through articles and interviews in the local media and the media in source countries. He encourages women in the shelter to testify against their traffickers and testifies himself when called upon to do so. He has confronted local officials and police publicly about the illegitimacy of Cyprus\'s \"artiste\" visa system. He has also formed links with the Russian Orthodox church and the La Strada organizations in source countries in an effort to coordinate prevention activities and to ensure that victims receive support upon their repatriation. Finally, he has even attempted to distribute informative leaflets at cabarets on his own. At considerable risk to his personal safety and the safety of his family, he often rescues victims directly from the hands of their traffickers. Fr. Savvas is tireless in his efforts, despite personal and family illness, and harassment from nightclub owners and police. His contribution to fighting TIP in Cyprus is singular and extraordinary.

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