NEWS

Greece said to lag in war on traffickers

Greece is among a group of 19 countries, including Afghanistan and Turkey, that are not doing enough to stop human trafficking, the US State Department said yesterday in its second annual report on the subject. «Every year, an estimated 700,000 to 4 million people around the world are victimized by traffickers through fraud, coercion and outright kidnapping. The overwhelming majority of victims are women and children. Traffickers often force them into pornography and prostitution,» Secretary of State Colin Powell said. The report was highly critical of Greece. «Greece is primarily a destination country and, to a lesser extent, a transit country, for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Major countries of origin include Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Albania, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and Romania,» the report said. The other 16 countries are: Armenia, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Iran, the Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan and the United Arab Emirates. «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 is now taking steps toward combating trafficking, and the minister of public order described it as a first priority for the Greek police,» the report said. It noted that a June 2001 organized-crime law «includes a section on trafficking that allows for limited undercover investigations; however, there have been few arrests and prosecutions. Fines and sentences are minimal.» It said that draft legislation on sexual crimes and human trafficking was presented in December 2001. It described regional cooperation in investigating and prosecuting as «limited but improving» and border controls as «weak.» «A May 2001 immigration law sets aside judgments against women who press charges against their traffickers, and allows these victims to remain in the country,» the report said. «The government does not provide shelters or services for trafficking victims.»