A new report published by the US Department of State states that the TRNC “continues to be a zone of impunity for human trafficking”.
It said that the TRNC authorities “do not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and are not making significant efforts to do so”.
The area lacked an anti-trafficking law and no statistics on law enforcement efforts against trafficking offenders were kept.
There was also lack of shelters for victims, and social, economic, and psychological services for them.
Furthermore, according to the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report, “local observers reported authorities were complicit in facilitating trafficking and police continued to retain passports upon arrival of women working in night clubs”.
The authorities did not allocate funding to anti-trafficking efforts, police were not trained to identify victims, and authorities provided no protection to victims, the report noted.
Meanwhile, the report identified nearly twice the number of victims of trafficking in South Cyprus in 2014, compared with the previous year.
“The Government of [South] Cyprus does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so” the report said.
It added that “during the reporting period, the government convicted three traffickers and punished them with the most stringent sentences ever issued for a trafficking crime in Cyprus since it was criminalized in 2000.”
Earlier this month, the South’s Justice and Public Order Minister Ionas Nicolaou said that the number of prosecutions in connection with human trafficking offences had increased, and at the same time the Police have tightened their operational controls.
In 2013 the police filed charges against 34 persons, in 2014 against 50 persons, while during the first months of 2015 this number rose to 64, Nicolaou said, addressing a conference organised in Cyprus in the framework of the “Embracing” project aiming at combating human trafficking.
Last year the Ombudswoman Eliza Savvidou warned that human trafficking continues to constitute a real, serious and diverse problem in Cyprus, which is the most critical human rights violation and a serious crime.