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Suspected Human Trafficking Arrests - Nicosia

Thirty-two people were taken into custody early this morning in Nicosia by anti-human trafficking authorities from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and UNFICYP, said police.

Police announced that they have arrested a 50-year-old Nicosia farmer in connection with the case. The man employs 27 foreign workers in the Avlona area in Nicosia. Five more foreign men were found in the UN-patrolled buffer zone in a building belonging to a resident of the area.

According to police, the operation was triggered by complaints that the workers were being treated badly and forced to work under terrible conditions. 13 of the workers were in Cyprus illegally, said investigators.

The workers are being interviewed for evidence they were badly treated or brought to Cyprus against their will, said police.

In 2009, there was a sharp increase in the number of victims of labor trafficking, according to the US State Department Human Rights report. The police anti-trafficking unit remains understaffed at only five persons, and the conviction rate for trafficking offenses remains low, at only seven people convicted in 2009.

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