In its second report on Greece, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) acknowledges positive steps taken by the Greek authorities to combat human trafficking, but also highlights a number of shortcomings.
The report examines progress made by Greece in the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings since the publication of GRETA’s first report in October 2017. The adoption of a national action plan for preventing and combating human trafficking, and the setting up of the National Referral Mechanism for the identification of victims of trafficking, are among the important steps taken by the Greek authorities. The legislative framework has also been revised, as recommended by GRETA in its first report.
The report pays particular attention to combating human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation. In the wake of the Chowdury judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, the Greek authorities have taken a number of measures, including the regularisation of undocumented Bangladeshi workers. GRETA calls for further improvements, such as increasing the number of labour inspectors and training them to detect cases of human trafficking and exploitation.
Another focus of the report is preventing child trafficking. GRETA welcomes the setting up of the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors, the establishment of safe zones for unaccompanied children, and the increase in the number of accommodation facilities. However, GRETA urges the Greek authorities to increase their outreach work to identify child victims of trafficking, and to provide them with long-term assistance.
The report stresses that the identification of victims of trafficking should not depend on the presumed victim’s complaint and co-operation in the investigation or criminal proceedings. The expertise of specialised NGOs, psychologists, health-care staff and labour inspectors should be duly considered during the identification procedure. Noting with concern reports of pushbacks and forced removals of migrants and asylum seekers at the land and sea border with Türkiye, GRETA calls on the Greek authorities to ensure that individualised risk assessment is conducted prior to any forced removals and that it assesses the risks of trafficking or re-trafficking on return.
The report also expresses concern over the failure of the authorities to apply protective measures to victims of trafficking, thus exposing them to re-traumatisation and re-victimisation. GRETA urges the Greek authorities to make full use in practice of the available measures to protect victims, including children. Police officers, prosecutors and judges should be provided with the necessary training in order to ensure the application of such measures in practice.
Furthermore, GRETA notes that no applications for state compensation have been submitted by victims of trafficking, and asks the Greek authorities to take steps to ensure that state compensation is effectively accessible to victims of trafficking.
The report also calls on the Greek authorities to ensure that the police units investigating trafficking offences are properly resourced and enabled to carry out proactive and prompt investigations, including financial investigations.
The Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) is an independent body which monitors the way countries implement the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. All member states of the Council of Europe are bound by the Convention, as well as non-member states Belarus and Israel.