Europe and Central Asia

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


The trafficking of women for forced prostitution into Greece is a serious problem and a grave human rights abuse. After many years of failing to address this abuse, a joint ministerial decision by the ministers of public order and interior was signed in May 2001 providing for a "work management group on trafficking" to develop, coordinate and implement anti-trafficking policy in Greece. (1)

Human Rights Watch welcomes this initiative in light of the growing scale of trafficking in Greece, which has been acknowledged by the Greek government and many other sources. However, Human Rights Watch believes that the Greek government should take urgent action on a number of fronts to combat trafficking and to protect the human rights of trafficked women. While the work management group is mandated to make its recommendations within one year, the urgency of Greece's trafficking problems calls for immediate measures to ensure that no trafficking victim will be required to wait another year before she has access to justice for the serious abuses she has suffered.

The purpose of this memorandum to the government is to emphasize the need for both immediate and long-term, effective responses to the trafficking of women into Greece for forced prostitution. This memorandum focuses on the specific characteristics of the trafficking problem in Greece, the abuses that trafficking victims suffer, and the government's to-date inadequate response to trafficking as a human rights violation. The inclusion of a comprehensive set of recommendations on effective measures to combat trafficking and to protect the human rights of trafficking victims signals both the immediate measures that should be taken by the government and the more long-term solutions that might fall within the mandate of the incipient working group. (2)

Human Rights Watch hopes that this memorandum will contribute to the fight against trafficking in Greece and reaffirm that the human rights of trafficking victims must be protected.


1. Letter from Police Brigadier General and Director of the International Police Cooperation Division Nikolaos Tassiopoulos, Ministry of Public Order, Athens, to Human Rights Watch, May 29, 2001. The working group will consist of police officials; representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the General Secretariat for Equality and the International Organization for Migration; the national representative from the European Observatory on Trafficking; and a sociologist. It is tasked with the implementation of a national action plan aimed at the prevention and suppression of trafficking and the protection of victims' rights. Within one year from the establishment of the group, it is required to report on the trafficking situation in Greece; introduce legislation on trafficking; develop a model for a special office on trafficking within the Greek police; create a trafficking archive; and develop a plan for the voluntary repatriation of trafficking victims.

2. In Appendix I, see also Human Rights Watch's "Recommendations Regarding the Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings," (March 2001). These recommendations address the pending "European Commission proposal for a European Council decision on combating trafficking." See Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, COM (2000) 854 [2001/0024 (CNS)], December 21, 2000.

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Appendix I
Recommendations regarding the Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings
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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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