MPs have expressed concern over the way girls are trapped by traffickers through the internet.
The issue arose during discussion by the House Human Rights Committee of the latest US State Department annual Trafficking in Person report in which it upgraded Cyprus’ status from Tier 2 to Tier 1.
Tier 1 is the highest category and includes countries whose governments fully comply with the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act minimum standards, while Tier 2 refers to countries whose governments do not fully comply with TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance.
There is also a Tier 2 Watchlist, a Tier 3 and a Special Cases category in the State’s Department rankings.
The House Human Rights Committee was briefed about the State Department’s report by its delegation to the Organisation for Security and Co‑operation in Europe delegation.
Eirini Charalambidou, head of the delegation, expressed her concern over the manner in which girls are led to trafficking, which is increasingly done via the internet and urged the police to upgrade its cyber-crime department.
According to the report, criminals use bitcoin in their transactions to avoid being spotted by the authorities.
“Cyprus is a destination country for women who are subjected to trafficking in persons. One of the most worrying parts of the report was the discovery that human trafficking victims are now increasingly approached by other girls through the internet who lead them to prostitution against their will,” Charalambidou said.
In other cases, young girls are romantically approached online by boys their age who then lure them into prostitution, Charalambidou added.
President of the House Human Rights Committee, Stella Kyriakidou added that the traffickers are miles ahead of the countries’ authorities in their use of technology and noted that the parliament should reevaluate its legislation on the issue to make them more effective.
DISY MP, Mariella Aristidou said that “we should not rest on our laurels because the report says that we meet the minimum requirements for combating human trafficking and we should do a lot more.”
“The report should not be a reason for celebration,” AKEL MP, Skevi Koukouma added, as Cyprus ranking in the State Department’s tiers “fluctuates all the time.”
The police investigated 38 people for human trafficking in 2016, Phileleftheros reports.