A young migrant eight-month pregnant woman and third country national first appealed to KISA for help on 7 February, after being abandoned by her trafficker, also third-country national, on the street in Nicosia. Terrified, confused and at a loss, the young woman was eventually persuaded by KISA to report to the police, the Anti-Trafficking Unit of which later recognized her as a victim of trafficking and placed her in the government shelter for victims of trafficking. Her case was taken to the District Court by the Attorney General’s Office but the Court judged that it was a serious crime and referred it to the Criminal Court.
According to KISA’s information, after the referral of the case to the Criminal Court, instructions to deport the woman and her two weeks old baby came from the Attorney General’s Office, which requested the Immigration authorities to proceed with the deportation of all persons involved in the case. Despite the protection provided by the law, the Immigration Police entered the shelter of victims of trafficking to arrest and deport her. At that point, KISA intervened on behalf of the victim and informed the Minister of Interior, whose action appears to have been responsible for the suspension of the deportation.
On the basis of the information received, KISA expresses its serious concern over the handling of a very serious case of human trafficking for the following reasons:
- The Attorney General’s Office has no power under the law to order deportation, whereas at the same time it is under the obligation to prosecute traffickers with due diligence and to ensure that victims of trafficking have all the necessary legal and other information to pursue their rights to compensation. It is not acceptable, just because the traffickers and the victim are non Cypriots, for the criminals to go unpunished and for the victims not to have their rights protected and secured by finding the easy way of deportation. The messages conveyed to society with decisions like that is that we just want to get rid of the problem and not to actually address it effectively under our obligations as those are derived from national and international law.
- The Immigration authorities did not enforce the law as it specifically provides for the protection for victims of trafficking and for their right to remain in the country pending the court procedures. It is therefore unacceptable for the Immigration authorities to blindly obey the order of the Attorney General’s Office to deport the victim and the perpetrators without themselves evaluating the case.
- The Immigration Police should not have entered the shelter in order to arrest the victim for the purpose of deportation. The shelter should be a place where victims are protected and they feel safe.
- The Welfare Services were under the duty to protect the victim from the Immigration Police and not to allow the them to enter the shelter as this act in itself intimidates all victims of trafficking living in the shelter.
KISA also condemns the fact that despite the agreement recently achieved before the Parliamentary Committee on Criminality that NGOs are allowed to visit the shelter and support the victims, the Welfare Services have failed up to now to implement this agreement and do not provide access NGOs to the victims, even when the victims have been referred their by NGOs.
In the light of all the above, KISA requests that the whole matter is investigated thoroughly and with due diligence and for actions to be taken against those responsible for violating the anti-trafficking legislation.