A total of 140 persons were identified as possible victims of human trafficking in the first nine months of this year, while it was confirmed that 19 of them were victims of trafficking, Phileleftheros reported on Monday.

According to figures submitted by the Ministry of Justice to the House of Representatives, a total of 12 cases were investigated by the Anti-Trafficking Office from January 1 till September 30 2019. The cases mainly concerned sexual offences, labour exploitation and criminal acts such as sham marriages. The cases involved 30 suspects while 19 persons have already been identified as victims of trafficking in persons as follows:

1. Trafficking for sexual exploitation – 8 women.
2. Trafficking in labour – 2 women and 1 man.
3. Trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation – 2 women.
4. Trafficking for the engagement in criminal acts – 5 women.
5. Trafficking for illegal adoption – a female infant.

It is also noted that two convictions have been secured this year for the 2019 cases, with two people sentenced to prison.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the following actions were taken this year to eliminate and combat human trafficking:

* Targeted lectures to inform the public about the issue of human trafficking and its consequences.

* Early identification of potential victims and adoption of appropriate measures.

* Checks and investigations for the identification of all forms of human trafficking,  prosecution of traffickers and assistance to their victims.

* Improvement of collection and evaluation of information and the carrying out of coordinated operations.

* Targeting of traffickers (both groups and persons).

* Timely and effective investigation of cases of human trafficking.

* Strengthening of cooperation with all parties involved at the national, European and international level.

Cyprus was placed in the ‘1’ category in the US  Human Trafficking Report in 2018 covering all countries in the world. The category ‘1’ includes countries that fully comply with the minimum standards for elimination and combating human trafficking.

Nevertheless, the report records the long delays observed in Cyprus in prosecuting and convicting traffickers.

It is noted that due to its geographical location, Cyprus is the first point of entry for thousands of immigrants to Europe and hence is a destination for the trafficked.

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