'Baby Traffickers' Have Legal Loophole
Recent cases of possible baby trafficking that were reported to the House Human Rights Committee can be classed as 'private adoptions,' said prominent gynaecologist Dr. Marios Liasides in comments to state radio, saying that he has campaigned many years against the current situation.
Since there is no law against this practice, traffickers who locked pregnant women up in apartments until they gave birth and then gave the children up for 'adoption', have a legal loophole. Two of the women involved worked in strip clubs, according to the report on state radio.
"This disturbs us very much, it is under investigation," said Justice Minister Loukas Louka in comments at The Changing Facets of Trafficking in Human Beings conference in Nicosia.
There is a special unit in the police force which deals with different forms of trafficking, he said, adding that the victims of baby traffickers have been given all the help that is possible under Cyprus and EU law.
Until the investigation is finished, he cannot divulge any more information on the cases, he said.
"It is a weakness that private adoptions are not illegal. We are working to close this loophole," said Social Insurance and Labour Minister Sotiroula Charalambous speaking at the same conference.
There is a draft proposal to outlaw private adoptions that is being examined by the House legal committee, she said.
Efforts to fight human trafficking in Cyprus are a priority of the government, said Charalambous, but they are hampered by the political division and occupation of the island. Although the government supports the work of NGOs which operate on both sides, their own efforts are restricted to within the legal limits of the current situation, she said.
The role of the labour ministry is to protect the victims of trafficking, and since 2007, the government shelter has provided accomodation, food and psychological therapy to 148 victims of trafficking, said Charalambous.
"The recent trend has been in the trafficking of forced labour. Recruitment companies in other countries give us a big problem and we are working on new laws that will be much stricter on recruitment processes," said Charalambous.