Two hundred and sixty-nine (269) potential victims of exploitation were identified during Europol's eight-day, coordinated pan-European action to crack down on trafficking in human beings and labor exploitation in the agricultural sector, in which Cyprus also participated. The results of the operation were made public yesterday by the European agency.
In Cyprus, a total of four inspections were carried out in nurseries in the province of Nicosia, during which 17 potential victims of exploitation were identified.
According to an announcement, the control campaign lasted from 9 to 16 September 2021, with the participation of more than 2000 members of police and tax authorities, border guards, immigration officers and labor inspectors, from various European countries, such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands and Spain. The whole operation was coordinated by France.
During the operation, inspections were carried out on 704 agricultural plots and premises and 273 vehicles, while a total of 4014 persons were checked.
As a result of these investigations, 269 possible victims of exploitation and 54 suspected traffickers were identified, while a total of 12 arrests were made.
In Cyprus, a total of four inspections were carried out in nurseries in the province of Nicosia, during which 17 potential victims of exploitation were identified. The 17 went through personal interviews, without any signs of victimization.
Labor exploitation is a highly lucrative criminal activity, which adversely affects both the health and the rights of victims. This is the reason why criminal networks and human traffickers, and in particular the mediators in the illegal labor market, were targeted during the operation.
Focus was made on workplaces such as farms and agricultural businesses, which had been identified as areas with the highest probability of labor exploitation. checks were also made on the working conditions of the laborers.
It appeared that people from third countries are more vulnerable to exploitation in seasonal work, while nationals of European countries appear to be exploited in the agricultural sector throughout the year.
In its press release Europol noted that the fight against human trafficking for the purposes of labor requires a unified, cross-border effort by various authorities.