Europe court rules sex trafficking violates human rights convention

[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [judgment text; press release] Thursday that sex trafficking violates conventions against slavery and forced labor, finding both Russia and Cyprus liable in the case of a young woman who came from Russia to work in a Cyprus cabaret and was later found dead. The case was brought by the woman's father, who had campaigned for both countries to investigate her death. The court found that both Russia and Cyprus violated Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF], which prohibits slavery and forced labor. The ECHR ruled that Cyprus did not have a proper framework in place to prevent sex trafficking, and that authorities had reason to know the woman may have been a victim of sex trafficking and did not do enough to protect her. The court ruled that Russia did not do enough to identify where the woman was recruited and punish the responsible parties. The court also found that Cyprus violated the woman's right to life under Article 2 of the Convention by failing to investigate her death. The court ordered Cyprus to pay the woman's father 40,000 euros and Russia to pay 2,000 euros. Cyprus admitted responsibility [AFP report] the ruling and promised to investigate the woman's death.

Sex trafficking is illegal in most European countries, but many women continue to come from Russia and Ukraine to work in Cyprus cabarets. In 2008, European Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg [official website] criticized [report] Cyprus's artiste visa program, which he said facilitated illegal sex trafficking. Cyprus ended the program that year, but that only took effect in November.



 

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