NEWS

US faults Greece for ‘sex slavery’

The US Department of State yesterday released its annual report on «Trafficking in Persons» and placed Greece among 15 countries it judged not to be making significant efforts to stamp out this modern slave trade. These countries could face sanctions unless they improve their performance by Oct. 1 or receive a waiver. «Greece is a destination and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. According to a government source, as many as 18,000 people were trafficked to Greece in 2002,» the report said. «The government of Greece does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The government showed a shift in political will to address trafficking through its recent comprehensive legislation on sex trafficking. However, the government has not yet effectively enforced the law,» it added. Greek officials, speaking before the report was made public, acknowledged that a problem existed but expressed regret that Athens’s efforts to combat the trafficking had not been deemed significant. «We at the Foreign Ministry have done all we could to avoid this and approved programs for non-governmental organizations. We did not do this because of the report but because we believe it is a priority,» Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos told Athens’s Flash radio. «The Church of Greece has a major related program, the Justice Ministry moved swiftly to pass a presidential decree based on a law that Parliament passed unanimously in October. In general, we showed excessive movement, I would say,» he added. «I would have expected recognition of our efforts.» He noted that Greece, with its rugged borders and long coastlines was an attractive destination in a region undergoing great change. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas said, «The illegal traffic in women is a serious problem which we have worked on very seriously.» With Greece, Belize, Bosnia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Suriname, Turkey and Uzbekistan were placed on the report’s «Tier 3.»