The vast majority of persons, who have experienced/experience conditions of trafficking in Cyprus are persons with migratory status, who have worked/work as unskilled workers in the following areas: domestic work, farming/agriculture industry, sex industry, and entertainment. Persons identified as ‘victims of trafficking’ usually are needed to stay in Cyprus for a long time, as they are witnesses in criminal proceedings, which typically take many years to complete. During this period, persons who have been identified as victims of trafficking face various problems regarding their rights to access adequate livelihoods and health care, as well as issuing a residence permit. More specifically, in 2013, KISA’s Migrant and Refugee Centre dealt with the following issues:
Ι. Access to adequate livelihoods
The access of persons identified as victims of trafficking in satisfactory livelihoods is guaranteed either through employment or through public assistance. The problems identified are the following:
- Persons identified as victims of trafficking do not usually have any expertise/specialization and
- There are no training programs for them, in order to gain such expertise.
- Concentration in specific sectors (domestic work, entertainment, and farming and agriculture industry), where labor/sexual exploitation is frequent
- High risk of re-victimization when they find employment.
- Not adequate living resources while employed, taking into account that salaries in those sectors are very low
- Public assistance
- delays in examining applications for public assistance
- delays in paying public assistance
- communication failure between persons identified as victims of trafficking and the officers the Social Welfare Services (SWS)
- problems in relation to the behavior of SWS officers towards persons who have been identified as victims of trafficking
- access to the procedures of applying for public assistance (most commonly because submitting a residence permit is a prerequisite to apply)
- After their recognition as victims of human trafficking, these persons should be given directly public assistance while being registered in programs of vocational training, in order for them to be integrated in the labor market, either in Cyprus, during their reintegration, or in their country of origin, in case of repatriation, with better working conditions.
- To be placed in employment only in case an employment framework, in which these persons agree to work and the authorities can ensure their protection and terms of work through programs of supervised work, is found.
- The Officers who are in direct contact with people who experienced/are experiencing human trafficking have to be trained appropriately concerning their behavior/treating of these people.
ΙΙ. Access to health care
According to the law, persons, who are identified as victims of trafficking have full and free access to health care. Unfortunately, this right is restricted in practice by various factors. More specifically, in 2013, KISA’s Migrant and Refugee Centre dealt with the following issues:
- Information of persons identified as victims of human trafficking regarding their rights to health care and on how to apply for a health card.
- The behavior of the people working in public health services
- Problems in accessing health services, most commonly, problems in relation to the behavior of persons working at public health services, communication problems- lack of interpretation/translation services and lack of awareness regarding cultural differences.
- Access to services/treatments that are not available at the public health services.
- Lack of therapeutic programs to address trauma/post-traumatic stress disorders for persons, who have experienced trafficking.
- Persons working at public health services should be trained adequately concerning the way they behave/encounter people who have been identified as victims of human trafficking.
- To provide people who are recognized as victims of human trafficking with the possibility of interpretation when they address the public health services
- Coverage of expenses for the services/treatments not available in the public health services
- Creation of therapeutic programs in order to address/manage traumatic/post-traumatic stress of people who have experienced trafficking
ΙΙΙ. Problems regarding resident permits
- It is requested from people who have been recognized as victims of human trafficking to pay a fee of 60 euros and/or bank deposit and/or medical insurance to apply for renewal of their residence permit and their family members’
- Delay in the issuance and renewal of residence permits of people who have been recognized as victims of human trafficking.
- Serious consequences in their quest for employment, as most employers ask migrant workers to prove that they have a valid residence permit in order to proceed with their employment.
- The other services as well require a valid residence permit in order to grant access to social rights.
- Mediation with the relevant authorities (Civil Registry and Migration Department, Ministry of Interior) regarding their rights to issuance/renewal of a resident permit in order for people recognized as victims of human trafficking to be excluded from the fee of the application submission.
- All services should accept the receipt of submission of application/renewal of their residence permit