Greece remains a prime spot for human traffickers to move their cargo into the country and through it to reach other destinations for the people to be exploited into forced labor and as sex slaves, the U.S. State Department said in its annual report.
“Women from Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Georgia, Nigeria, and some countries in Asia are subjected to sex trafficking in Greece,” the report stated.
It added: “Victims are subjected to debt bondage in agriculture and construction. Hundreds of children, mainly Roma from Albania and Romania, are subjected to forced labor in Greece and made to sell goods on the street, beg, or commit petty theft.”
Officially, Greece was designated a Tier 2 country, one where a government is not fully compliant with the minimum protection of victims and in which the number of victims of severe abuse is significantly increasing.
The annual State Department’s report – published on June 20 to mark World Refugee Day – describes how children from Romania are brought to Greece and forced to work, and how Roma from Bulgaria are increasingly lured on the promise of employment and subjected to forced begging, with children being subjected to forced petty theft, according to EnetEnglish.
Nigerian women are reportedly transported through the Aegean islands and over the Turkish border into Evros, in northeastern Greece, and instructed to file for asylum as Somalis.
They are subjected to sex trafficking in Athens and other major cities, the report says, with traffickers using voodoo curses, spiritual traditions, and threats against family to coerce Nigerian women into exploitation.
Traffickers transport victims through Greece for forced labor and sex trafficking in Italy and other EU countries, the report added, noting that a small group of Greeks are also victims of trafficking within the country.
But the report did stress that the Greek government is making “significant efforts” to combat the problem. “The government identified a greater number of trafficking victims during the reporting period, compared to the previous year,” it said. “Few trafficking victims were certified for victim assistance, despite a progressive statutory scheme.”
It went on: “The government investigated many trafficking cases and imposed serious prison sentences for some of the 19 trafficking offenders convicted in Greece during the reporting period. Unresolved cases of complicity remained a challenge.”
It pointed out that government funding for anti-trafficking NGOs stopped because of the country’s crushing economic crisis with services proving inconsistent and some smaller trafficking shelters struggling to remain open.
It added that the country’s judiciary continued to suffer from structural and legal inefficiencies that resulted in low conviction rates. “However, the Ministry of Health’s National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA) operated non-trafficking-specific shelters for 80 persons (including minors) and in cooperation with NGOs had access to another 120 beds,” it said.