Greece: Justice and protection for trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls

Despite the enormous scale of trafficking of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls for forced prostitution in Greece, the government has failed to guarantee them protection and justice, said Amnesty International in a new report published today (12 June).

Many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls are denied protection in Greece because help is conditional upon them agreeing to testify against their traffickers, which they are often too terrified to do – meaning their traffickers escape justice. Thousands more are never identified as trafficked, are simply treated as ‘illegals’ and are even deported.

Trafficking for forced prostitution in Greece is believed to have increased tenfold from 1990 to 1997. According to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in 2000 alone, up to 90,000 people are believed to have been trafficked into Greece from central and eastern Europe, a large number of whom were Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights trafficked for prostitution.

The new Amnesty International report, ‘Greece: Uphold the rights of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation’, looks at the scale of trafficking into Greece for forced prostitution, and points to gaps in Greek law and practice on trafficking that undermine the efforts to help trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls.

It includes the case of ‘Aleksa’, who comes from eastern Europe. She was taken to Greece and forced into prostitution. She was detained by the Greek authorities because she did not have the necessary documents. Aleksa was offered protection by the Greek authorities only if she cooperated in bringing her traffickers to trial. Now she dreads testifying against them in court because the police protection she is offered is not adequate and she is afraid her attackers or their associates will come after her.

Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International, said:

"In the face of this modern form of slavery, continued protection for trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights is made conditional on their willingness to testify in court against their traffickers. Some are silenced by threats of reprisals from their traffickers. As a result, traffickers escape justice while their victims do not get assistance.

"An effective witness protection programme is not on offer, nor is relocation to another country where trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights might escape reprisals."

Governments are obliged to prevent, investigate and prosecute trafficking and to ensure protection to those who have been subjected to it. Although the Greek government has introduced a series of new laws since 2002, and has signed up to but not yet ratified the European Convention Against Trafficking, it has failed to correctly identify most trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and only a few have received limited protection or other assistance.

Ratification of the European Convention would require Greece to grant protection to victims without obliging them to agree to testify in court. The UK has also still to ratify this Convention.

The report points to two major failings in the way Greece currently handles trafficking for forced prostitution:

  • Failure to identify Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls as "victims of trafficking"; many are instead detained and prosecuted for unlicensed prostitution or illegal entry, and deported only to be trafficked yet again. Police are poorly trained to identify trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, especially outside the big cities, while the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are afraid to come forward. According to official statistics, between 100 and 200 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights are identified each year as having been trafficked. Local NGOs estimate the number of trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls that remain unidentified each year to be in the thousands;
  • Obiging Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls to agree to testify against their traffickers as a condition for receiving support and protection; victims of trafficking have to decide in just 30 days whether they will cooperate with police in exposing the traffickers. In exchange for such cooperation they receive short-term residence permits and further assistance and protection. However, in some cases, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are afraid to testify for fear of reprisals and they face deportation. The future of trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights whose traffickers are not being pursued and whose cooperation is not being requested remains unclear

Nicola Duckworth continued:

"The system of 'cooperation in exchange for protection' is deeply flawed. It undermines the rights of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights to assistance and protection irrespective of whether they cooperate or not.

"Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are trapped between fear of reprisal against themselves or their families from the traffickers, and the pressure from police for cooperation. Bringing traffickers to justice should not be at the expense of the protection of the rights of the trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights."

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