TRNC Poor Record of Human Trafficking Prevention

North Cyprus News - Sex Workers

Thursday, 21 July 2022

The TRNC continues to have a poor record in preventing human trafficking, Yeniduzen reports.

According to a report on people trafficking published for 2022 by the United States of America, the TRNC, if it were recognised, falls into Tier 3 in the fight against human trafficking, which is well below minimum standards, Yeniduzen writes. Countries are placed in tiers considering the minimum standards of the Convention on the Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking; The Republic of Cyprus was placed in ‘Tier 1’ and the Republic of Turkey in ‘Tier 2’.

The report stated that TRNC, while not ‘officially’ placed in any rank since it does not have international recognition,added that, ‘If it were to be assigned to an official rank, it would be Tier 3”, a rank well below the minimum standards.

Tier 3 includes Afghanistan, which has been taken over by the Taliban, Russia at war, or a number of countries ruled by a sultanate.

In the report, which touched upon the human trafficking, violations of rights and the grievances experienced by foreign students and workers in nightclubs in North Cyprus, it was emphasized that the TRNC had made some legal arrangements regarding human trafficking, but had not however taken any steps to implement these laws.

The northern area of Cyprus is administered by Turkish Cypriots. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots proclaimed the area the independent “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”). The United States does not recognize the “TRNC,” nor does any other country except Turkey. If the “TRNC” were to be assigned a formal ranking in this report, it would be Tier 3. “TRNC” does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, even considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity. Despite the lack of significant efforts, “TRNC” took some steps to address trafficking. In March 2020, “Parliament” amended the “TRNC criminal code” to include trafficking for the first time and “Parliament” also passed the 2000 UN TIP Protocol in April 2018. However, Turkish Cypriot authorities did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any traffickers. Turkish Cypriot authorities did not identify any “trafficking victims and provided no victim protection, including shelter and social, economic, and psychological services. Turkish Cypriot authorities did not allocate funding to anti-trafficking efforts or provide training on anti-trafficking issues.

The “Nightclubs and Similar Places of Entertainment Law of 2000” stipulated nightclubs may only provide entertainment such as dance performances, but Turkish Cypriot authorities rarely enforced this “law” and observers continued to report the 27 nightclubs in “TRNC” acted as brothels where sex trafficking commonly occurred. Police confiscated passports of foreign women working in nightclubs and issued them identity cards, reportedly to protect them from abuse by nightclub owners”.

The reported stated that a total of 617 women work in 28 nightclubs in the TRNC, it was emphasised that ’employees’ went for weekly health checks accompanied by nightclub guards and were prevented from informing the police or doctors that they were being exploited for commercial sex.

It was stated that the “’Nightclub Commission’, which is composed of police and civil servants who regulate nightclubs, inspects around five night clubs every two weeks, but the said inspection is more focused on kitchen cleaning and interviews with employees are always carried out in front of nightclub guards or staff. It was stated that women were prevented from speaking freely”. 

The report also claimed that “government officials were found to be complicit in organised crime groups linked to nightclubs” and that “some Assembly members were among clients of nightclubs“.

The Social Services Department within the Ministry of Labor runs a helpline for victims of human trafficking. However, it was stated that there was a shortage of personnel and the victims were afraid to call the hotline because it was believed that the line was linked to politicians in the TRNC.

Foreign university students, many of whom are recruited with false promises of scholarships, free housing and employment, are vulnerable to both sex and labour trafficking. It was emphasised that male students had been forced to work or commit crimes such as carrying or selling drugs.

Yeniduzen, United States Trafficking in Persons Report

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