The founder of the NGO Cyprus Stop Trafficking (CST) and its honorary President Androulla Christofidou Henriques was awarded this year's Human Rights Award “Stella Souliotis” established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for her action and the help she offers to victims of human trafficking.
The organization was established in 2009.
The prize was awarded on Friday in a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the presence of, among others, the Minister of Justice, the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, the Commissioners for Administration and Legislation, Ambassadors and representatives of diplomatic delegations as well as last year's winners, SPAVO and the organization Hope for Children.
This is the second year that the prize has been awarded in memory of Stella Souliotis, the first Minister of Justice of the Republic of Cyprus and the first female Attorney General and defender of human rights.
This year's award was received on behalf of Ms. Henriques by the President of the NGO Neophytos Neophytou and her greeting was read by Nelson Neocleous, a member of the Organization's Board of Directors.
The awardee noted that when the Organization was established, its enemies it was not organized crime but the state, society and judges.
He explained that the state was issuing so-called artist visas, society was providing clientele, and the Judiciary was unable to find witnesses for cases. “They told us there was no human trafficking,” he said. He added that with the assistance of the then Minister of the Interior Neoklis Silikiotis, the artist visa was abolished and all the night clubs were closed, “but the problem did not disappear”.
According to Ms. Henriques, the problem is still there the fact that only five victims were accommodated in state shelters last year proves that only a few victims are identified and identified.
He also referred to the role of the current Member of Parliament, Rita Superman, who for decades as a police officer was actively involved in the issue of human trafficking and cooperated with the Organization she trusted, as well as the contribution of the former Minister of Labor, Zetas Emilianidou.
The honorary President of the NGO said that the huge issue of bureaucracy that creates obstacles in the matter of dealing with human trafficking must be addressed. He called Stella Souliotis, in whose memory the award was established, a role model and said that he would like to share the award with Anna Aristotelous and Athena Dimitriou.
Last year's awardees, Maria Xaviara Koussiu on behalf of SPAVO and Andri Neokleous on behalf of Hope for Children, gave a brief greeting, making a small review of their actions and actions in the past year.
The ever-increasing slippage of human rights
In his own speech, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulidis stated that the “Stella Soulioti” Award Committee decided to award it to Androula Christofidou Henriques, honoring her for her long-term, tireless and influential contribution against human trafficking.
She noted that as an activist and founder of the NGO “Cyprus Stop Trafficking” she is one of those rare personalities who have made a significant contribution to alleviating human suffering and addressing the violation of human dignity.
Mr. Kasoulidis said that fifteen years later, the Cyprus STOP Trafficking Organization continues its legacy, supporting victims of human trafficking and forging a zero-tolerance approach to this scourge in Cyprus.
He also said that on December 10, we celebrated the 74th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is a milestone in the history of humanity and its efforts for this sacred good, remaining a beacon for progress and justice.
But Mr. Kasoulidis said there is also serious concern as we see an ever-increasing slide in human rights.
He said the COVID19 pandemic and the environmental crisis, combined with the enormous impact of war in Ukraine, demonstrate the need to redouble our efforts to safeguard and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Minister said that the international human rights agenda has always been high on her priorities. of Cyprus, adding that on a wide range of issues, such as gender equality and the fight against human trafficking, our steadfast commitment in the protection and promotion of human rights, is imperative.
He stated that the Republic of Cyprus has decided to present its candidacy for the first time to the Human Rights Council for the period 2025-2027, expressing confidence that Cyprus , if elected, will make a substantial contribution as a member of the Council.