The US State Department has maintained Greece's position as a Tier 2 country in its latests human trafficking report, highlighting it as a transit destination for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.
"Women from Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Georgia, Nigeria, and some countries in Asia are subjected to sex trafficking in Greece," the report says.
It adds: "Victims are subjected to debt bondage in agriculture and construction. Hundreds of children, mainly Roma from Albania and Romania, are subjected to forced labour in Greece and made to sell goods on the street, beg, or commit petty theft."
The Tier 2 level country is one where a government is not fully compliant with the minimum protection of victims and in which the number of victims of severe abuse is significantly increasing.
The annual State Department's report - published on June 20 to mark World Refugee Day - describes how children from Romania are brought to Greece and forced to work, and how Roma from Bulgaria are increasingly lured on the promise of employment and subjected to forced begging, with children being subjected to forced petty theft.
Nigerian women are reportedly transported through the Aegean islands and over the Turkish border into Evros, in northeastern Greece, and instructed to file for asylum as Somalis.
They are subjected to sex trafficking in Athens and other major cities, the report says, with traffickers using voodoo curses, spiritual traditions, and threats against family to coerce Nigerian women into exploitation.
Traffickers transport victims through Greece for forced labour and sex trafficking in Italy and other EU countries.
A small numbers of Greek citizens are identified as victims of trafficking within the country.
And the plight of immigrants often working for slave wages became headline news in April when almost 30 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers – earning €22 a day but owed more than six months' wages – were injured when a foreman opened fire on them in Manolada, in the Pelopnonnese.
Bangladeshi worker Mohamed (C), 25, is helped by colleagues into a tent in the town of Manolada following the shooting incident However, the report did stress that the Greek government is making "significant efforts" to combat the problem, despite the Tier 2 rating.
"The government identified a greater number of trafficking victims during the reporting period, compared to the previous year," it said. "Few trafficking victims were certified for victim assistance, despite a progressive statutory scheme.
"The government investigated many trafficking cases and imposed serious prison sentences for some of the 19 trafficking offenders convicted in Greece during the reporting period. Unresolved cases of complicity remained a challenge."
It pointed out that government funding for anti-trafficking NGOs ceased entirely due to the financial crisis, with services proving inconsistent and some smaller trafficking shelters struggling to remain open.
It added that the country's judiciary continued to suffer from structural and legal inefficiencies that resulted in low conviction rates.
"However, the Ministry of Health’s National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA) operated non-trafficking-specific shelters for 80 persons (including minors) and in cooperation with NGOs had access to another 120 beds," it said.
All copyright remains the exclusive property of the original content provider. PalermoProtocol.com lays no claim whatsoever to copyrighted material.