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UN expert fighting child sex trafficking in Greece

UN expert fighting sex trafficking calls for coordinated child protection in Greece

Even though the number of registered cases of child sexual exploitation and trafficking in Greece is small and measures have been taken to counteract these crimes, a United Nations human rights expert said today that the country still needs a comprehensive approach to child protection due to new regional conditions.

“After having been a country of origin of migration, in the last decade Greece has increasingly become a country of transit and destination of migrants,” said the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Juan Miguel Petit, who serves in an independent personal capacity and visited the Aegean country from 8 to 14 November.

“The huge and dispersed coastline makes Greece an attractive destination or a gateway to the European Union,” he explained in Athens. “This big flow of people on the move brought along challenges that the country was not prepared to face.”

He said that recent measures taken by the Government to meet that challenge include the ratification of relevant international treaties and the adoption of new laws on migration and the trafficking of human beings. An institutional framework to implement the law against trafficking was set up through the establishment of an inter-ministerial task force to address the problem.

However, Mr. Petit found that actual responsibilities for child protection are still spread among different ministries, and he called for a coordinating body to galvanize efforts.

In addition, he said that the protection of unaccompanied minors needs to be improved, particularly in the cases of victims of trafficking or asylum seekers.

Voicing concern about the situation of Roma children, Mr. Petit said many were living in unacceptable conditions without adequate access to education and basic services, and called on the Government to “give Roma children alternatives other than street work or prostitution as survival strategies.”

He also recommended the creation of commission made up of Greek and Albanian authorities to resolve the case of the approximately 500 children who went missing from the children's institution Aghia Varvara between 1998 and 2002.

Mr. Petit noted that his visit to Greece immediately followed a mission to Albania, and said the purpose of visiting two neighbouring countries was to better understand trans-national dynamics of phenomena like child trafficking and migration flows of unaccompanied children.

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