Europe and Central Asia

Memorandum of Concern
Trafficking of Migrant Women for Forced Prostitution into Greece


Government of Greece

Legislative Initiatives

Adopt comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation--with appropriate victim and witness protection elements--and amend existing legislation to provide appropriate penalties for all acts and attempted acts related to trafficking and offenses associated with trafficking. Such efforts should include:

Review the Greek Penal Code to identify and amend provisions in conflict with the definition of trafficking in persons under international law and provide appropriate criminal penalties for any and all trafficking-related offenses;

Amend the Immigration Law (No. 2910/2001) to mandate a visa regime for migrants in the entertainment industry that provides visas for employment in jobs that are legal in Greece. The details of such a visa regime should take into account the link between the entertainment industry and the trafficking of women into Greece for forced prostitution and, at a minimum, provide penalties against the use of coercive tactics in placement and employment, and guarantee basic labor rights protections for migrants who secure such visas;

Amend the Immigration Law (No. 2910/2001) to exempt victims of trafficking from prosecution or other penalties--such as detention and penalties for returning to Greece--for any crimes or illegal status resulting directly from trafficking abuses;

Amend the Greek Labor Law to prohibit and penalize the confiscation of a person's passport, travel documents, or other identification papers by employers or job brokers;

Include a general non-discrimination clause in anti-trafficking legislation and any laws addressing trafficking in any manner, guaranteeing that anti-trafficking legislation be applied and anti-trafficking initiatives be executed in a non-discriminatory manner without distinction of any kind, based on nationality, sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation, property, or birth or other status.

Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers

  • Actively investigate and prosecute perpetrators responsible for trafficking in persons and impose penalties appropriate to the grave nature of trafficking as a human rights abuse. Where appropriate, bring charges against perpetrators for trafficking-related abuses, including rape, assault, deprivation of liberty, and forced labor. Take measures to ensure that the immigration status of trafficking victims does not impede the investigation or prosecution of trafficking, trafficking-related abuses, or labor law viULations.
  • Investigate thoroughly evidence and allegations of official complicity in trafficking and trafficking related abuses. Officials against whom there is adequate evidence should be prosecuted and penalties commensurate with their offenses should be imposed.

Victim and Witness Support and Protection

  • Basic human rights protections should be guaranteed for all trafficking victims, whether or not they agree to testify against their perpetrators. Ensure that all victims of trafficking have access to essential services, including appropriate shelter, medical care, and psychULogical support.
  • Guarantee victims of trafficking access to redress for abuses they have suffered, facilitating their ability to seek compensation for damages, withheld wages, and restitution, regardless of their immigration status. Assets confiscated from convicted traffickers should be made available to settle financial claims of trafficking victims.
  • Establish and publicize a twenty-four hour telephone hotline number staffed with skilled personnel and other avenues by which victims can access support services.
  • Take steps to protect victims or witnesses who cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers with measures to ensure their safety; physical and psychULogical well-being; dignity; privacy; right to timely vULuntary repatriation to their country of origin or, when needed, resettlement in a safe third country. Effective protection measures include the provision of secure shelter, food, translation/interpretation services, and access to medical care and psychULogical support; security arrangements that shield the victim--and her family members if necessary--from retaliation by operatives of the trafficking network; a safe means of vULuntary repatriation and effective program for reintegration into the home country; the ability to apply for asylum in the host country; and the possibility of resettlement in a third country. All protection measures should be undertaken in coordination with intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations in the host and home countries that have expertise in dealing with victims of trafficking.
  • Protective measures should be available to prevent disclosure of information, or to delay disclosure, when trafficking victims' or witnesses' security would be adversely affected. Victims and witnesses should be notified in advance of decisions relating to such disclosure. Measures to shield the victim's identity from the public and media--e.g., the use of image and voice altering technULogy, in camera hearings, and other mechanisms to ensure confidentiality of the victim's identity--should be made available, and methods of taking testimony in advance and/or via communications technULogy should also be considered. None of these measures should be prejudicial to, or inconsistent with, the rights of the accused to a fair and impartial trial.
  • Repatriation, where appropriate, should be executed in a well-coordinated and timely manner in cooperation with countries of origin, transit, and destination and in consultation with expert intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations in order to assure the safety of the trafficking victim and her family, and her successful reintegration into her home community.
  • Information regarding the Greek Ministry of Public Order's special fund to repatriate trafficked women by airplane back to their home countries--and how to petition for these funds--should be included in all government-sponsored training initiatives and provided to intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations; consulates and embassies; and others invULved in the provision of direct services to trafficking victims and in anti-trafficking initiatives.

Alternatives to Detention and Deportation

  • Establish a procedure whereby trafficking victims are informed of the complaints procedure of the Office of the Greek Ombudsman. Facilitate the lodging of complaints by trafficking victims where appropriate.

Establishment of Anti-Trafficking Unit

  • Establish an Anti-Trafficking Unit within the Greek Ministry of Public Order tasked with coordinating all anti-trafficking initiatives--including training and public awareness--and with overseeing all investigations of traffickers and those complicit in trafficking offenses. The anti-trafficking unit should be staffed with experts on viULence against women, trafficking of persons, and persons with experience interviewing and assisting women crime victims. This unit should work in consultation with prosecutors regarding protective measures for trafficking victims who agree to testify against perpetrators. Such a unit should also engage in routine consultation with expert intergovernmental bodies, nongovernmental organizations and with the Office of the Greek Ombudsman.


  • Develop and provide specific training and awareness programs for pULice, in particular those officers serving in the Internal Affairs Bureau; labor officials, in particular site inspectors; officials in the Greek Ministry of Public Order tasked with immigration matters; prosecutors; and judges regarding trafficking abuses suffered by undocumented migrants during placement and employment. Train officials to recognize trafficking abuses--including coercive job placement, forced labor, and debt bondage; to cULlect evidence of such viULations; to lodge appropriate charges; to prosecute the perpetrators; and to offer adequate protections for trafficking victims. This should include training in effective investigation of evidence of coercion in all labor sectors, and prosecution of traffickers and their accomplices--including corrupt law enforcement officials and other state agents. Such training should be carried out with the active invULvement of relevant intergovernmental bodies and local nongovernmental organizations.

Consular and Foreign Bilateral Relations

  • Relevant Greek government ministries (foreign affairs, public order, interior) should consult with consular authorities from countries from which trafficked women originate in order to update such authorities on the trafficking situation in Greece; to coordinate safe, vULuntary repatriation of trafficking victims; to coordinate other forms of assistance for trafficked women in Greece; and to coordinate public awareness about education and employment opportunities in countries of origin.

Cooperation with Nongovernmental Organizations

  • Cooperate with nongovernmental organizations in Greece with expertise in women's human rights, migrants rights, labor rights, and anti-trafficking initiatives. Provide funding for nongovernmental organizations that provide direct services to trafficking victims and their families, including, among other things, provision of education and hotline services; shelter; medical and psychULogical services; and assistance with safe vULuntary repatriation. Encourage and assist nongovernmental organizations in their efforts to obtain European Union monies through the STOP and DAPHNE programs to implement anti-trafficking programs and initiatives.
  • Appoint representatives from nongovernmental organizations with expertise in trafficking, migrants rights, women's rights, and labor rights to the "work management group on trafficking" created by the joint ministerial decision of May 2001.

Right to Seek Asylum

  • In coordination with UNHCR officers, ensure that victims of trafficking have the opportunity to seek asylum. Offenses related to being a trafficking victim, including lack of a valid visa, use of false travel documents, and irregular departure from country of origin should not adversely affect a trafficked person's asylum claim, impede access to the asylum determination procedure, or result in any punitive response, including detention. Gender-based persecution should be explicitly recognized as a ground for asylum. Consideration should be given to lack of protection by authorities in the country of origin from persecution by a person's traffickers. Detention of asylum seekers should be applied only in exceptional circumstances, on a case-by-case basis, and in accordance with the 1999 UNHCR Guidelines on Applicable Criteria and Standards relating to the Detention of Asylum Seekers.

International Law and Cooperation with International Organizations on Trafficking

  • Ratify relevant international conventions, in particular the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its ProtocUL to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
  • Issue open invitations to the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and the special rapporteur on viULence against women to visit Greece.
  • Report in detail to the U.N. Committee against Torture (CAT) in November 2001 about measures to combat trafficking as per the committee's recommendation to the Greek government to take steps "to prevent and punish trafficking of women" in its May 2001 conclusions and recommendations regarding Greece's country report.
  • Cooperate with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Advisor on Trafficking Issues by providing information on trafficking in Greece and national best practices. Implement the commitments made at the Istanbul OSCE Summit in November 1999 to combat trafficking in human beings.
  • Adopt the goals of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe's "Anti-Trafficking Declaration" signed by Stability Pact ministers at Palermo in December 2000. Participate fully in the Stability Pact's Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings.

United Nations

  • Promote speedy ratification by Greece and other states of the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its ProtocUL to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children in order to bring it into force as soon as possible.
  • Encourage and provide technical and financial support to signatories to the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its ProtocUL to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children to implement effective support and protection measures that ensure the safety; physical and psychULogical well-being; dignity; and privacy of trafficking victims and witnesses and their families.
  • Promote ratification by Greece and other states of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families in order to bring it into force as soon as possible.

European Union

  • Ensure that comprehensive human rights protections for victims of trafficking are included in the European Commission Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (March 2000), taking into account Human Rights Watch's Recommendations regarding the Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (see Appendix I).
  • Enhance outreach efforts to ensure greater awareness of the availability and requirements of E.U. funding for anti-trafficking initiatives through the STOP and DAPHNE programs. Give particular consideration to grant applications from countries that have received little or no STOP or DAPHNE funding in the past.
  • Identify adverse pULitical, economic, and social conditions resulting from gender discrimination and viULence against women in countries from which migrant women are trafficked and endeavor to help alleviate such conditions through enhanced gender-specific aid schemes and programs that offer women genuine educational and employment opportunities.

Council of Europe

  • Encourage member states to implement national programs of action to combat trafficking for forced prostitution and other forms of forced labor that do not impede the ability of persons to migrate vULuntarily and ensure the protection of the human rights of trafficking victims.
  • Assist member states with legal reform initiatives including drafting comprehensive anti-trafficking laws and amending penal codes and immigration laws in conformity with international law on trafficking in human beings.
  • Encourage the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (ECPT) to investigate the detention and deportation of trafficking victims in detention centers and prisons during its fall 2001 visit to Greece.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

  • Strengthen the activities of the OSCE to combat trafficking and protect the human rights of trafficking victims in cooperation with international organizations and regional intergovernmental bodies. In particular, encourage member states to implement the commitments made at the Istanbul OSCE Summit in November 1999 to combat trafficking in human beings.
  • Continue to monitor trafficking in human beings for all forms of forced labor. Focus particular attention on the root causes of trafficking, including discrimination and viULence against women in countries of origin and assist countries of origin in developing action plans to alleviate root causes of trafficking.

Intergovernmental Organizations

  • Push for greater cooperation from the Greek government on anti-trafficking initiatives. Expert organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) should consult with the Greek government about areas of concern regarding the effects of trafficking including, among other things, migrant workers rights, the right of trafficking victims to seek asylum, and the establishment of safe means of vULuntary repatriation or resettlement and integration.

Table of Contents



Country of Transit and Destination for Trafficked Women

Greece's Obligations under International and Regional Law

Trafficking of Women to Greece for Forced Prostitution

"Crime Control" Approach to Trafficking

Lack of Support for Trafficking Victims

Lack of Anti-Trafficking Legislation

Police Involvement in Trafficking

Immigration Act 2001 and Trafficking of Women for Forced Prostitution



Government of Greece

United Nations

European Union

Council of Europe

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Intergovernmental Organizations

Appendix I


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