Greece remains on Tier 2 in US State Department’s 2019 human trafficking report

Greece remains on Tier 2 in the US State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, which was released on Thursday. According to the report, Greece “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.”

The report says the Greek government demonstrated overall increasing efforts, which included the anti-trafficking unit making robust investigative efforts, such as joint inspections with labour inspectors and social workers, and the government officially launching a multi-disciplinary national referral mechanism with appropriate standard operating procedures and written guidance, including a project to eliminate forced labor in local government supply chains.

However, the Greek government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Slow screening procedures and overcrowded facilities, including migrant and refugee camps, and shelters for unaccompanied minors, exacerbated vulnerabilities and, at times, led to re-victimisation of survivors. In addition, the government lacked proactive identification efforts for forced labor and unaccompanied children, and some authorities informally forcibly removed some migrants and asylum-seekers to Turkey, strongly discouraging victims from self-identifying or cooperating.

Specialised support for victims remained inadequate or inaccessible, and court proceedings often lasted two to six years, which hindered cooperation from victims and key witnesses, and resulted in acquittals of suspected traffickers, underlined the report.

The report summarised some key recommendations, including the increase of proactive identification efforts for victims of forced labour and victims among vulnerable populations, such as unaccompanied children, migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. The strengthening of specialised services including shelter and psycho-social support for all victims, including children, adult males, and victims in rural areas is also key, as is the vigorous investigation, prosecution and conviction of traffickers.

Decreasing the length of court proceedings for trafficking cases and providing training to judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement on trafficking investigations and prosecutions, particularly in rural areas and for non-specialised staff was identified as an another important area of concern.

“To its merit, the Greek state continued to coordinate government wide anti-trafficking efforts despite lacking sufficient resources. The government drafted a national action plan for 2019-2023, monitored anti-trafficking efforts, and made assessments publicly available.

Furthermore, labour inspectors inspected 37,270 businesses with 112,073 workers; the labour inspectorate fined 3,869 businesses with 5,689 undeclared workers a total of 58.86 million euros.

Finally, the Greek government made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts and forced labor and also operated two hotlines: one for female victims of violence and another for individuals in vulnerable situations,” the report said.