U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2000 - Cyprus
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||26 February 2001|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2000 - Cyprus , 26 February 2001, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa994.html [accessed 3 August 2015]|
|Comments||This report is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State in compliance with sections 116(d) and 502(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, and section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended. The law provides that the Secretary of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, by February 25 "a full and complete report regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights, within the meaning of subsection (A) in countries that receive assistance under this part, and (B) in all other foreign countries which are members of the United Nations and which are not otherwise the subject of a human rights report under this Act." We have also included reports on several countries that do not fall into the categories established by these statutes and that thus are not covered by the congressional requirement.|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Prior to 1974, Cyprus experienced a long period of intercommunal strife between its Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. In response the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) began peacekeeping operations in March 1964. The island has been divided since the Turkish military intervention of 1974, following a coup d'etat directed from Greece. Since 1974 the southern part of the island has been under the control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. The northern part is ruled by a Turkish Cypriot administration. In 1983 that administration proclaimed itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC"). The "TRNC" is not recognized by the United States or any other country except Turkey. The two parts are separated by a buffer zone patrolled by the UNFICYP. A substantial number of Turkish troops remain on the island. In both the government-controlled areas and in the Turkish Cypriot community democratic principles generally are respected. Glafcos Clerides was reelected President of the Republic of Cyprus in 1998; in April 2000 Rauf Denktash was declared "President" after "Prime Minister" Dervish Eroglu withdrew following the first round of Turkish Cypriot elections. The judiciary is independent in both communities.
Police in the government-controlled area and in the Turkish Cypriot community are responsible for law enforcement. Police forces operating in the government-controlled area are under civilian control, while military authorities direct Turkish Cypriot police forces. In general the police forces of both sides respect the rule of law, but instances of police abuse of power continued.
Both Cypriot economies operate on the basis of free market principles, although in each community there are significant administrative controls. The government-controlled part of the island has a robust, service-oriented economy, with a declining manufacturing base and a small agricultural sector. Tourism and trade generate 22 percent of gross domestic product and employ 29 percent of the labor force. In 2000 per capita income was approximately $12,902, inflation was 4.5 percent, and unemployment was 3.5 percent. Growth was 4.8 percent, compared with 4.5 percent in 1999. The Turkish Cypriot economy is handicapped by restrictions imposed by the Government of Cyprus and other international institutions. In addition it relies heavily on subsidies from Turkey and is burdened by an overly large public sector. It, too, is basically service-oriented, but has a smaller tourism and trade base – accounting for 14 percent of gross domestic product employing 10 percent of the workforce – and a larger agricultural sector. During the year, per capita income in the north was approximately $5,263, and inflation was 60 percent. Growth in the north was 5.3 percent in 2000, compared with 4.9 percent in 1999.
The Government of the Republic of Cyprus generally respected human rights; however, instances of police brutality continued to be a problem.
The Turkish Cypriot authorities generally respected human rights; however, police abuse of suspects' and detainees' rights continued. The authorities also continued to restrict freedom of movement. Since December 1997, the Turkish Cypriot authorities have banned most bicommunal contacts between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, including previously frequent meetings in Nicosia's buffer zone. They sometimes attempted to prevent Turkish Cypriots from travelling to bicommunal meetings off the island as well. In May Turkish Cypriot officials lowered the "visa" fees for crossing the buffer zone. The Turkish Cypriot authorities have taken some steps to improve the conditions of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the territory under their control, but the treatment of these groups still falls short of Turkish Cypriot obligations under the Vienna III Agreement of 1975.
Violence against women and trafficking in women for forced prostitution remained problems in both areas.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killings.
Turkish Cypriot authorities still have not conducted a credible investigation of the 1996 murder of a prominent leftist Turkish Cypriot journalist, Kutlu Adali, who wrote articles critical of Turkey's role in the north.
In 1996 Turkish Cypriot civilian police killed a Greek Cypriot demonstrator who had entered the U.N. buffer zone, and the police participated in the beating death of another. Again, there has not been any significant investigation by Turkish Cypriot authorities of the killings. The family of one of the deceased filed a case against Turkey in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which declared the case admissible in June 1999. The case was pending at year's end.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Both the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus and the basic law governing the Turkish Cypriot community specifically prohibit torture, the law in both communities prohibits such practices, and the authorities generally respect these provisions in practice; however, instances of Cypriot police brutality against suspects in detention continued, mostly involving non-Cypriots. One officer was tried and acquitted in March in connection with the October 1998 beating of illegal immigrant detainees by members of a special police unit (see Section 2.d.).
On December 21, the ECHR found the Cypriot Government guilty of police abuse during the 1995 arrest for drug smuggling of Turkish Cypriot Erkan Egmez and ordered the Government to pay Egmez $16,000 (10,400 pounds sterling) in compensation.
The former European Commission on Human Rights agreed in January 1998 to investigate complaints by nine Turkish Cypriots that Greek Cypriot police mistreated them in 1994 and expelled them to the north. The complainants allege they were threatened with death if they returned to the south and that Greek Cypriot police were responsible for the death of one complainant's son, who did return to the south later in 1994. The Cypriot Government denies all the charges; the Commission took oral evidence in the case in Nicosia in September 1998. The case was pending at year's end.
While there were no public allegations of police brutality in the Turkish Cypriot community, there were credible reports of pervasive police abuse of power and routine harsh treatment of detainees (see Section 1.d.).
Prison conditions in general meet minimum international standards. According to a report issued in May by the government Ombudsman, prisoners with psychiatric problems in
the south do not receive proper medical care. Persons incarcerated in jails in the south on minor charges are mixed with more hardened, violent criminals.
The Cypriot Government and the Turkish Cypriot authorities permit prison visits by human rights monitors.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Throughout Cyprus the police respect laws providing for freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. Judicially issued arrest warrants are required. No one may be detained for more than a day without referral of the case to the courts for extension of the period of detention. Most periods of investigative detention do not exceed 8 to 10 days before formal charges are filed. Attorneys generally have access to detainees; bail is permitted. The Government of Cyprus claims the right to deport foreign nationals for reasons of public interest whether or not they have been charged with or convicted of a crime.
Some abuses of power occur at the hands of the Turkish Cypriot police, generally at the time of arrest. Suspects sometimes are not permitted to have their lawyers present when testimony is being taken, a right provided under the Turkish Cypriot basic law. Suspects who demand the presence of a lawyer may be threatened with stiffer charges or even physically intimidated. A high percentage of convictions in the Turkish Cypriot community are obtained with confessions made during initial police interrogation under these conditions. According to credible reports, police are known to abuse their right to hold persons up to 24 hours before having to go before a judge. Police officers use this tactic against persons suspected of serious crimes or believed to have behaved in a manner deemed insulting to the officer. The suspects are then released within 24 hours without charges having been filed.
On December 1, Greek Cypriot police arrested Omer Gazi Tekogul for possession of 2 kilograms of heroin near the village of Pyla, located in the British Sovereign Base Area (SBA). Shortly after Tekogul's arrest, a Turkish Cypriot official told UNFICYP that Greek Cypriots would "disappear" in retaliation for Tekogul's arrest (this statement was later repudiated by Rauf Denktash). On December 13, Turkish Cypriot authorities arrested Greek Cypriot Panicos Tziakourmas for possession of marijuana. An SBA police investigation points to Tziakourmas being seized by Turkish Cypriots on SBA territory and found no evidence of marijuana. Turkish Cypriot authorities claim that Tziakourmas was arrested in the north. Both cases were pending at year's end.
Exile is prohibited specifically by the Constitution and by the basic law governing the Turkish Cypriot community, and is not used.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The judiciary is legally independent of executive or military influence in both communities, and it is independent in practice.
On both sides, most criminal and civil cases begin in district courts, from which appeals are made to Supreme Courts. No special courts exist for security or political offenses.
Cyprus inherited many elements of its legal system from the United Kingdom, including the presumption of innocence, the right to due process, and the right of appeal. Throughout Cyprus, a fair public trial is provided for in law and accorded in practice. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials, to be represented by counsel (at government expense for those who cannot afford one), to confront witnesses, and to present evidence in their own defense.
On the Turkish Cypriot side, civilians deemed to have violated military zones or military regulations are subject to trial in a military court. These courts consist of one military and two civilian judges and a civilian prosecutor. Members of the Turkish Cypriot bar have complained that civilian judges tend to defer to their military colleagues in such hearings.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Both the Cyprus Constitution and the basic law governing the Turkish Cypriot community include provisions to protect the individual against arbitrary interference by the authorities, and a judicial warrant is required for a police official to enter a private residence. Although authorities on both sides generally respected these provisions in practice, police on both sides have subjected members of the other community resident in their area to surveillance (see Section 5).
The Turkish Cypriot authorities restrict the ability of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north to change their place of residence at will (see Section 5).
In May Turkish Cypriot authorities announced that Greek Cypriots and Maronites resident in the north may bring their spouses to reside with them in the north. Greek Cypriot marriage certificates will be recognized as proof of marriage. Previously this required special permission, which was difficult to obtain. One such marriage took place during the year.
2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Freedom of speech and of the press are provided for by law, and these rights are respected in practice throughout the island. The proliferation of party and independent newspapers and periodicals in both communities enables ideas and arguments to circulate freely. Opposition papers frequently criticize the authorities. Several private television and radio stations in the Greek Cypriot community compete effectively with the government-controlled stations. In addition to 2 smaller, university-run radio stations, 11 private radio stations operate in the Turkish Cypriot community along with 4 private television stations. International broadcasts are available without interference throughout the island, including telecasts from Turkey and Greece.
In 1998 Turkish Cypriot officials filed a number of court actions against newspapers and journalists, alleging that certain articles "damaged the prestige of the state." Five complaints against the Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Avrupa were consolidated into one court action. In December 1999, a court ruled that the newspaper was liable and fined it approximately $215,000 (120 billion Turkish lira). In May 2000 court bailiffs seized the newspaper's computers and other equipment to satisfy partially the court judgement. The newspaper was closed for a day until alternate production facilities were found. In July the owner-editor of the same newspaper, two journalists and a photographer from the newspaper, and a Turkish Cypriot "security forces officer" and his wife were taken into custody on suspicion of espionage. The journalists and photographer were released later without being charged. The owner-editor and the "officer" and his wife were released but barred from leaving the north. They were not formally charged and faced rearrest at any time. The same newspaper was acquitted in September of charges based on a 1998 story alleging that Turkish Cypriot soldiers assaulted a Turkish Cypriot family after a dispute over housing.
Restrictions sometimes were imposed on the ability of journalists to cross the buffer zone to cover news events. The Cypriot Government denied entry to the south for visiting Turkish journalists who arrived in Cyprus through ports of entry in the north. In retaliation Turkish Cypriot authorities sometimes required Greek Cypriot journalists to purchase a "visa" to enter the north, which the journalists refused to do. Current Turkish Cypriot policy, while applied inconsistently, is to permit Greek Cypriot journalists travelling as a group to cover events in the north without paying a "visa" fee, but not to allow Greek journalists entry unless they pay the fee. Individual Greek Cypriot journalists usually also must pay the fees.
Academic freedom generally is respected throughout the island.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The freedom to hold meetings, associate, and organize is protected by law, and the Government respects these rights in practice.
Although Turkish Cypriot authorities also generally respected these rights, they imposed restrictions on bicommunal meetings (see Section 2.d.).
c. Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion generally is respected. The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus recognizes five religions that are exempt from taxes and receive government subsidies. Other religions may register routinely as nonprofit organizations and receive tax exemptions, but not subsidies. In the Turkish Cypriot area, no religion is recognized in the basic law, but Islamic institutions receive tax exemptions and subsidies through the Wakf religious trust; no other church receives exemptions or subsidies. Although missionaries have the legal right to proselytize in both communities, missionary activities are monitored closely by the Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church and by both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot authorities.
Turkish Cypriots residing in the southern part of the island and non-Muslims in the north are allowed to practice their religions. Restrictions on the right of Greek Cypriots resident in the north to visit Apostolos Andreas monastery were eased in 1998; they now may visit the monastery without restriction. Maronites may not visit certain religious sites in the north located in military zones. Armenians may not visit any religious sites in the north. A Greek Cypriot application to allow a second priest to reside in the north to assist the elderly Orthodox priest already in the north has been pending for more than 3 years.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots enjoy freedom of movement within their respective areas. Both authorities respect the right to travel abroad and to emigrate. Turkish Cypriots have difficulty traveling to most countries because travel documents issued by the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" are recognized only by Turkey. Most Turkish Cypriots use Turkish travel documents instead.
Republic of Cyprus authorities discourage travel to the northern part of the island. They permit only day travel by tourists to the north, sometimes arbitrarily refuse permission to non-Cypriots to cross to the north, and pressure foreigners working in Cyprus not to cross to the north. They have declared that it is illegal to enter Cyprus except at authorized entry points in the south, effectively barring entry into the government-controlled area by foreigners who have entered Cyprus from the north. Turkish Cypriots traveling to the south must seek prior permission from the Turkish Cypriot authorities and must provide the Turkish Cypriot authorities with an itinerary and the purpose of their travel. To pass the Greek Cypriot checkpoint, Turkish Cypriots must provide their planned itinerary to the checkpoint police. They do not need to notify the checkpoint police in advance but do need to prove they are Turkish Cypriots. There is no limit on how long they may remain in the south.
Turkish Cypriot authorities generally allow visits to the north by persons who initially enter Cyprus in the south, but they have denied entry to foreigners of Turkish Cypriot origin who enter Cyprus in the south. In 1995 the Turkish Cypriot authorities instituted a policy under which foreign nationals of Greek Cypriot origin would be permitted to visit the Turkish Cypriot-controlled areas. However, implementation of the procedures has remained inconsistent, and visitors of Greek Cypriot or Armenian origin, or even persons having Greek or Armenian names, may face considerable difficulties entering the north.
In May Turkish Cypriot authorities lowered "visa" fees at the main Nicosia checkpoint to 1 pound sterling. Greeks and Greek Cypriots still must obtain a formal "TRNC visa" to visit the north. Maronites are charged the same 1 pound sterling fee each time they cross. Requests to cross into the north must be submitted 48 hours in advance.
Following an agreement in 1997 on reciprocal visits to religious sites, a number of visits again occurred during the year. The Cypriot Government permitted over 1,400 Turkish Cypriots to make a pilgrimage to a Moslem shrine in the south in March and allowed another 1,300 to travel in June. In April a group of approximately 1,950 Greek Cypriots visited the Apostolos Andreas monastery in the north.
On July 1, Turkish forces established a new manned checkpoint in a location adjacent to the Greek Cypriot village of Strovilia and the British eastern SBA. Although access to Strovilia has been largely unimpeded, the checkpoint now provides Turkish forces the ability to control the approach to the village. Despite protests from UNFICYP and others, Turkish forces remained at the contested checkpoint in violation of the status quo.
On July 31, Greek Cypriot officials denied Turkish Cypriots land passage to Kokkina. Visits to this pocket of land – surrounded by the government-controlled area-that contains a memorial are included in the 1997 reciprocal visit agreement. In August and November Turkish Cypriot officials denied access to southern Greek Cypriots to visit the Apostolos Andreas monastery.
In 1996 the ECHR ruled 11 to 6 that Turkey committed a continuing violation of the rights of a Greek Cypriot woman by preventing her from going to her property located in north Cyprus. The ruling reaffirmed the validity of property deeds issued prior to 1974. The Court also found in this case that "it was obvious from the large number of troops engaged in active duties in northern Cyprus that the Turkish army exercised effective overall control there. In the circumstances of the case, this entailed Turkey's responsibility for the policies and actions of the "TRNC." In July 1998 the court ordered Turkey to pay the woman approximately $915,000 in damages and costs by October 28, 1998. The Turkish Government stated that it cannot implement the Court's decision, which it contends is a political decision, and argued that the land in question is not Turkish but is part of the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus." The Council of Europe (COE) during 2000 continued to call on the Turkish Government to comply with the Court's decision. In July the COE Committee of Ministers issued a resolution deploring Turkey's lack of compliance and strongly urging it to comply fully and without further delay with the ECHR judgment. About 150 similar cases filed by Greek Cypriots against Turkey have been declared admissible by the ECHR, but no judgement was issued on any of the other cases by year's end.
Turkish Cypriot authorities in the past had approved most applications for Turkish Cypriots to participate in bicommunal meetings in the U.N.-controlled buffer zone, but on December 27, 1997, they suspended Turkish Cypriot participation in these meetings pending a reevaluation of bicommunal activities. The "suspension" soon became an effective Turkish Cypriot ban on bicommunal contacts on Cyprus. Whereas in 1997 thousands of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots participated in bicommunal events, in which mixed groups met to discuss such topics as the environment, family violence, management techniques, business operations, and legal questions, the Turkish Cypriot ban halted almost all of those contacts. However, since June Turkish Cypriot authorities have eased the ban. On a case-by-case basis, the Turkish Cypriot authorities allowed some Turkish Cypriots to participate in bicommunal events in and across the buffer zone. Greek Cypriots still must obtain a Turkish Cypriot "visa" to visit the north. Turkish Cypriot authorities also attempted to interfere with some bicommunal events taking place outside Cyprus by requiring civil servants to seek permission from their respective employer and the Turkish Cypriot "Ministry of Foreign Affairs" before confirming their participation. Enforcement of the policy has been inconsistent, with some public officials permitted to attend off-island bicommunal events. Private citizens have been allowed to travel to off-island bicommunal events.
In recent years, Turkish Cypriot authorities have announced the easing of restrictions on the approximately 580 Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north. Turkish Cypriot authorities usually grant the applications of Greek Cypriot residents in the north to visit the government-controlled area. The limit on visits to the south was extended in 1998 from 15 days per month to a total of 6 months per year. The applicants must return within the designated period or risk losing their right to return and to keep their property, although this rule rarely is enforced in practice. In 1997 Turkish Cypriot authorities also eliminated the previous monthly limit on visits by close family relatives of Greek Cypriots and Maronites resident in the north (it was once per month until 1996 and twice per month thereafter). A limit on overnight stays also was increased from 2 days and 3 nights, to a "reasonable period" (said period to be determined by Turkish Cypriot authorities), with extensions possible. However, there are reports that Turkish Cypriot authorities have prevented family relatives from extending their stays in the north. There are also reports that Turkish Cypriot authorities have prevented unlimited travel to the north (as accorded by the 1997 elimination of a limit on visits) by family relatives. Greek Cypriots visiting from the south still may not travel in the north in their personal vehicles but must use taxis or buses and pay the crossing fee. In September, after a 4-year wait, Turkish Cypriot authorities allowed the wife of the Orthodox priest resident in the north to rejoin her husband. The wife had left the north to care for the couple's children.
Similar restrictions exist for visits by Maronite residents of the north to the government-controlled areas, but they are applied much more loosely than restrictions on Greek Cypriots, and Maronite travel is relatively free. However, Maronite residents also must pay the required crossing fees.
While in the past the Turkish Cypriot authorities permitted school holiday and weekend visits to the north only by children under the ages of 16 (male) and 18 (female), the age limits for Maronite students and female Greek Cypriot students were lifted entirely in 1998. In May Turkish Cypriot officials announced that male Greek Cypriot students of military draft age who can show documentation proving they are full-time students, and therefore not yet performing military duties, may continue to visit the north.
According to regulations announced in October 1998, the Turkish Cypriot authorities no longer require Greek Cypriots or Maronites resident in the north to obtain police permits for internal travel in the north. They may use private vehicles registered and insured in the north. Implementation of the new policy has been inconsistent.
The Government generally cooperates with the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). With the increasing number of illegal immigrants finding their way to Cyprus in small boats, the Government of Cyprus is receiving a growing number of asylum applications: 300 to 400 per year. These cases are referred to the local UNHCR office for evaluation. If recognized as a refugee, the applicant is granted a 3-year residence permit renewable for 3 additional years. If applicants meet the criteria for refugee status, they are permitted to remain and are given temporary work permits. However, applicants generally are not granted permanent resettlement rights. Applicants are permitted to remain until resettlement in a third country can be arranged.
In January, in accordance with the 1951 U.N. Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, the Cyprus legislature passed an asylum law designed to grant temporary residence to asylum applicants until their applications are reviewed by the competent government authority. The law is designed to transfer responsibility for the asylum application process from the UNHCR to the Government. However, there have been delays in establishing a relevant government authority, and the UNHCR continues to review asylum applications. In July the Government established a 130-bed detention facility for housing arriving immigrants until their cases can be evaluated. In the north, authorities generally cooperated with refugee authorities. Working with the assistance of a local nongovernmental organization (NGO), the UNHCR recognized 2 persons as refugees in 1999 and 15 persons as refugees in 2000.
In 1998-2000 groups of illegal immigrants attempting to reach Western Europe instead landed on Cyprus after their overcrowded vessels encountered problems at sea. A group of 34 Syrian Kurds, all of whom applied for asylum with the UNHCR, arrived on November 15. On December 12, the UNHCR notified the Government of the 34 pending asylum applications. The same day, under a bilateral agreement between Cyprus and Syria for the return of all illegal immigrants departing from Syrian ports, the Government returned the immigrants to Syria. The Government did not consult with the UNHCR prior to the return of the Syrian Kurds.
On September 13, 266 persons arrived on Cyprus from Lebanon after Greek Cypriot authorities rescued them from a sinking boat. The immigrants were held on a boat in Limassol port until Cypriot authorities, under an agreement between Cyprus and Lebanon calling for the return of illegal immigrants departing from any Lebanese port, transported them to Lebanon October 3. Despite requests to the Government, representatives of the UNHCR did not meet with the immigrants and were unable to determine their asylum status.
According to the Government, no individuals recognized as refugees were returned to countries where they credibly feared persecution.
A group of 100 persons, all of whom applied for political asylum, arrived in June 1998. Only 23 were granted asylum. Most of those who did not receive asylum were detained and then deported against their will in late 1998 and early 1999. Prior to that, in October 1998, a special police unit was filmed by local television cameras kicking and beating the detainees with batons, while stopping a protest during which the detainees burned their bedding. An examination of the immigrants, mostly Africans, by a forensic pathologist revealed that most were injured, some seriously. The Attorney General ordered an investigation, and charges were brought against the officer in charge. In July the officer was acquitted of using excessive force in quelling the protest. Later in July, the Attorney General appealed the court's decision; the appeal was pending at year's end.
3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Multiparty political systems exist throughout Cyprus. Under the Republic's Constitution, political parties compete for popular support actively and without restriction. Suffrage is universal, and elections are held by secret ballot. Elections for the office of President are held every 5 years; in February 1998 President Clerides won reelection to a new 5-year term. Elections for members of the House of Representatives are held every 5 years or less.
The Turkish Cypriots living in northern Cyprus elect a leader and a representative body every 5 years or less; in December 1998 they chose a new "National Assembly." In April 2000 Rauf Denktash was named Turkish Cypriot leader after his opponent, "Prime Minister" Dervish Eroglu, withdrew between the first and second round of voting.
Under the 1960 Constitution, voting took place on a communal basis. Therefore, since the breakdown in 1963 of bicommunal governing arrangements, and since the 1974 de facto partition of the island, Turkish Cypriots living in the government-controlled area are barred from voting there, although they may travel to the north to vote in elections. Similarly, Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north are barred by law from participating in Turkish Cypriot elections. They are eligible to vote in Greek Cypriot elections but must travel to the south to exercise that right. Officials in the north representing Greek Cypriots and Maronites are appointed by the Government of Cyprus and are not recognized by Turkish Cypriot authorities.
In both communities, women are underrepresented in government and politics, although they face no legal obstacles to participating in the political process. Women hold some cabinet-level, judicial, and other senior positions. In the House of Representatives, women hold 4 of 56 seats; in the "National Assembly" in the north, women hold 4 of 50 seats.
In addition to their normal voting rights, the small Maronite, Armenian, and Latin (Roman Catholic) communities also elect special nonvoting representatives from their respective communities who sit in the respective legislative bodies.
4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human rights
A number of organizations in both parts of the island consider themselves human rights groups; however, they generally are concerned with alleged violations of the rights of their community's members by the other community. Groups with a broad human rights mission include organizations promoting awareness of domestic violence and others concerned with alleged police brutality.
No restrictions prevent the formation of human rights groups. Representatives of international human rights organizations have access throughout the island. Government officials are generally cooperative and responsive to their views.
The United Nations, through the autonomous tripartite (United Nations, Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot) Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP), is attempting to resolve the problem of missing persons who remain unaccounted for since the intercommunal violence beginning in 1963-64 and the events of July 1974 and afterwards. The CMP has made little progress. However, in November 1999 the CMP met formally for the first time since early 1996 and agreed in principle to resume investigations in 2000. However, no resumption of meetings occurred during the year. In July 1997, the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities agreed to collect and share information on missing persons by the end of September 1997, outside of the CMP process. Information finally was exchanged in January 1998. Further progress has been delayed due to Turkish Cypriot reluctance to proceed without first fully accounting for those who may have been killed in internal Greek Cypriot fighting in July 1974 prior to the landing of Turkish forces on Cyprus.
Since June 1999 the Government of Cyprus has been conducting exhumations of gravesites in the south that may contain the remains of persons missing since 1974. So far 46 Greek Cypriots have been identified through DNA testing. Of those, 17 were listed among the missing since 1974; the remaining 29 were known to be dead, but the locations of their graves were unknown. In July 2000 the Government of Cyprus released a list of 1,493 Greek Cypriot missing persons whose cases have been submitted to the CMP for investigation.
A report by the former European Commission of Human Rights, released in September 1999, held Turkey responsible for violations of human rights in Cyprus stemming from the 1974 Turkish military intervention. The result of a complaint by the Government of Cyprus, the report rejected the Turkish argument that the "TRNC" is an independent state and instead ruled that it is "a subordinate local administration of Turkey operating in northern Cyprus." Turkey was held responsible for continuing human rights violations against Greek Cypriots missing since 1974, and their surviving relatives, and for violations concerning the homes and properties of displaced Greek Cypriots from 1974, as well as violations of the rights of Greek Cypriots still living in north Cyprus. In a September 20 hearing before the European Court of Human Rights, the Court reserved judgement on the report until a future undetermined date.
5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
Legislation in both communities provides for protection against discrimination based on sex, religion, or national, racial or ethnic origin. While each community generally respects such laws, significant problems remain with the treatment of the Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north and, to a lesser extent, with the treatment of Turkish Cypriots living in the government-controlled area.
Spousal abuse in the Greek Cypriot community is receiving increasing attention, and the problem is believed to be significant. An NGO formed to address the domestic abuse problem reported 591 cases during 2000, compared with 747 cases in 1999, with 83.2 percent of the reported victims women, 14.3 percent children, and 2.3 percent men. The NGO notes that the decrease in cases in 2000 should not be interpreted as an actual decrease in the incidence of domestic violence. A shortage in volunteer staff during the year decreased the number of the organization's domestic abuse hot line operating hours. A shelter for battered women opened in 1998.
A 1994 law aimed at making spousal abuse easier to report and prosecute initially had little effect because key provisions were unfunded and unimplemented. However, funding increased and progress was made in implementation during the year, with all cases reported to the police being referred to the courts and measures taken to ensure that such cases are treated as serious criminal charges, not simply as family disputes. Additionally amendments to the law during the year have facilitated the prosecution of suspected offenders. Many suspected cases of domestic violence still do not reach the courts, largely because of family pressure and the wife's economic dependence on her husband. Very few cases tried in the courts result in convictions. Little public discussion of domestic violence occurs in the Turkish Cypriot community, although a report issued by the NGO Women's Research Center described such violence as common. A women's shelter that opened in 1994 closed in 2000 due to lack of use. The shelter's location was well known in the community, and women seeking assistance feared being discovered by their spouses. Domestic violence cases are rare in the Turkish Cypriot legal system, since they often are considered a "family matter."
"Honor" crimes, in which women are victimized and even killed by relatives for alleged acts that dishonor the family, occur in the government-controlled area and in the north and are prosecuted in both areas. However, no such deaths have occurred in recent years on the island.
There is no law against sexual harassment law in the government-controlled area. Although prohibited by law in the north, sexual harassment is not widely discussed, and any such incidents are largely unreported. Republic of Cyprus law forbids forced (but not voluntary) prostitution. However, credible reports continue that women, generally East Asian or Eastern European night club performers, are trafficked and forced into prostitution in both communities (see Sections 6.c. and 6.f.).
The Greek Cypriot press frequently reported on the mistreatment of some maids and other foreign workers (see Sections 6.c. and 6.e.).
Throughout Cyprus, women generally have the same legal status as men. Greek Cypriot women married to foreign husbands were given the right to transmit citizenship to their children automatically in 1998 legislation. A 1998 Turkish Cypriot law on marriage and divorce provides for more equal treatment of husbands and wives. Under the law, the man no longer is considered legally the head of the family and does not have the exclusive right to decide the family's place of residence. The wife may retain her surname but must add the husband's surname. Turkish Cypriot women may now marry non-Muslim men. In cases of divorce, the court decides on a fair distribution of the family's assets, with each partner assured a minimum of 30 percent. In dividing assets, the judge must take into account which partner is receiving custody of the children and provide sufficient means to support them.
Legal provisions in both communities requiring equal pay for men and women performing the same job are enforced effectively at the white collar level, but Turkish Cypriot women employed in the agricultural and textile sectors routinely are paid less than their male counterparts.
Both the Government and the Turkish Cypriot authorities demonstrate a strong commitment to children's welfare. There is no difference in the health care and educational opportunities available to boys and girls. Free education through age 15 is compulsory in both communities.
There is no societal pattern of abuse of children.
People With Disabilities
In Cyprus generally, disabled persons do not appear to be discriminated against in education or the provision of state services. In the Greek Cypriot community, disabled persons who apply for a public sector position are entitled to preference if they are deemed able to perform the required duties and their qualifications equal those of other applicants. Legislation also mandates that new public building and tourist facilities provide access for the disabled, although little has been done to enforce this law. In the Turkish Cypriot community, regulations require businesses to employ 1 disabled person for every 25 positions they fill, although enforcement is inconsistent. While there is increasing awareness of the issue, the Turkish Cypriot community has not yet enacted legislation to mandate access for the disabled to public buildings and other facilities.
Greek Cypriots living in the north report that unused Orthodox churches continue to be vandalized. An Orthodox Church in the north is located in the center of an as yet unopened resort hotel constructed during the year on the grounds surrounding the Church. Turkish Cypriots complain that unused mosques in the south have been treated similarly. A previously unknown Greek Cypriot nationalist organization claimed responsibility for an arson attack on a mosque in the south in August 1999. Damage was light. The authorities repaired and built a fence around the mosque and pledged to increase protection of Muslim sites. No one had been arrested for the attack by year's end.
Both the Government of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot administration have constitutional or legal bars against discrimination. The basic agreement covering treatment of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north and Turkish Cypriots living in the south remains the 1975 Vienna III Agreement. This agreement provides for voluntary transfer of populations, free and unhindered access by the UNFICYP to Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north and Turkish Cypriots living in the south, and facilities for education, medical care, and religious worship. Turkish Cypriot noncompliance with some of the provisions of the Vienna III Agreement made daily life difficult for Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north. At year's end, there were 427 Greek Cypriots and 154 Maronites resident in the north.
Some of the approximately 300 Turkish Cypriots living in the government-controlled area face difficulties in obtaining identification cards and other government documents, especially if they were born after 1974. Turkish Cypriots also appear to be subjected to surveillance by the Greek Cypriot police. However, they make few formal complaints to the UNFICYP.
UNFICYP access to Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north remains limited. Despite recent improvements in living conditions for Greek Cypriots and Maronites, no Greek-language educational facilities for Greek Cypriot or Maronite children in the north exist the beyond elementary level. Parents thus are forced in many instances to choose between keeping their children with them or sending them to the south for further education (in which case Turkish Cypriot authorities no longer allow them to return permanently to the north). Turkish Cypriot authorities screen all textbooks sent from the south to the Greek Cypriot schools, causing lengthy delays and shortages of up-to-date texts. Turkish Cypriot authorities did not approve about 20 percent of the books sent to the north in September, and the books were returned. A request by the Government of Cyprus to send a fourth teacher to the Greek Cypriot school in the north was rejected by Turkish Cypriot authorities. Both Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north are unable to change their place of residence at will. Although the Vienna III Agreement provides for medical care by a doctor from the Greek Cypriot community, only care by a Turkish Cypriot doctor registered with Turkish Cypriot authorities is permitted. Additional telephones have been installed for Greek Cypriots living in the north, although they, like Turkish Cypriots, must pay higher, "international" fees to call the south.
In May 1999 a Maronite house in the village of Asomatos was demolished by the Turkish military. Military officials indicated that the action was an error and promised to rebuild the house. However, it had not yet been rebuilt by year's end. Maronites still lack some public services available in most other Turkish Cypriot areas.
In 1998 Turkish Cypriot authorities announced they were reviewing legislation that bans Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the north from bequeathing real property to heirs residing in the south. Such property would no longer be seized by the Turkish Cypriot authorities but would be taken into temporary custody pending probate of the will. However, it is not clear whether Turkish Cypriot legal provisions exist to facilitate the transfer of Greek Cypriot- and Maronite-owned property in the north to heirs in the south. Therefore, the practical effect of the 1998 announcement remains unrealized.
6. Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
All workers, except for members of the police and military forces, have the legal right to form and join trade unions of their own choosing without prior authorization. However, in the government-controlled area, police officers are permitted to join associations that have the right to bargain collectively, although not to strike. More than 70 percent of the Greek Cypriot work force belongs to independent trade unions. Approximately 50 to 60 percent of Turkish Cypriot private sector workers, and all public sector workers, belong to labor unions.
In the Turkish Cypriot community, union officials allege that various firms have been successful in establishing "company" organizations and then applying pressure on workers to join these unions. Officials of independent labor unions also have accused the Turkish Cypriot authorities of creating rival public sector unions to weaken the independent unions. The International Labor Organization (ILO) had not yet acted on these complaints by the end of September 2000.
In both communities, trade unions freely and regularly take stands on public policy issues affecting workers and maintain their independence from the authorities. Two of the major trade unions, one in each community, are affiliated closely with political parties. Both of the other major unions are independent.
All workers have the right to strike, and several strikes occurred. In the south, no major strikes occurred. In December in the north, discontent with a worsening economic situation precipitated a general strike that was supported by the major trade and teachers unions. In the northern part of the island, a 1978 court ruling gives employers an unrestricted right to hire replacement workers in the event of a strike, thereby limiting the effectiveness of the right to strike. Authorities of both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities have the power to curtail strikes in what they deem to be "essential services," although this power rarely is used.
Unions in both parts of Cyprus are able to affiliate with international trade union organizations, although Greek Cypriot unions sometimes object to recognition of Turkish Cypriot unions formed after 1963.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Trade unions and confederations by law are free to organize and bargain collectively throughout Cyprus. This right is observed in practice in the government-controlled areas, and most wages and benefits are set by freely negotiated collective agreements. However, Greek Cypriot collective bargaining agreements are not enforceable. In the rare instances when such agreements are believed to have been infringed, the Ministry of Labor is requested to investigate the claim. If the Ministry is unable to resolve the dispute, the union may call a strike to support its demands.
In the Turkish Cypriot community wage levels are reviewed several times a year for both private sector and public sector workers, and a corresponding cost-of-living raise is established. A special commission composed of five representatives each from organized labor, employers, and the authorities conduct the review. Union leaders contend that private sector employers are able to discourage union activity because the enforcement of labor and occupational safety regulations is sporadic, and penalties for antiunion practices are minimal. As in the Greek Cypriot community, parties to a dispute may request mediation by the authorities.
Small export processing zones exist in the port of Larnaca and in Famagusta, but the laws governing working conditions and actual practice are the same as those outside the zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor, including that performed by children, is prohibited by law, and this prohibition is generally observed. However, there were credible reports that foreign women were forced into prostitution (see Sections 5 and 6.f.). Foreign maids and illegal foreign workers allegedly are subject to the nonpayment of wages and the threat of deportation (see Section 6.e.).
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
In both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, the minimum age for the employment of children in an "industrial undertaking" is 16 years of age. Turkish Cypriots may be employed in apprentice positions at the age of 15. There are labor inspectors in both communities. However, in family-run shops it is common to see younger children working after school, and according to press reports, children as young as 11 or 12 years of age work in orchards during their school holidays in the Turkish Cypriot community. Laws prohibit forced and bonded child labor, and these laws are enforced effectively in both communities (see Section 6.c.).
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The legislated minimum wage in the Greek Cypriot community, which is reviewed every year, is approximately $426 (266 Cyprus pounds) per month for shop assistants, practical nurses, clerks, hairdressers, and nursery assistants, rising to $459 (287 Cyprus pounds) after 6 months' employment. This amount is insufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. All other occupations are covered under collective bargaining agreements between trade unions and employers within the same economic sector, and the wages set in these agreements are significantly higher than the legislated minimum wage. The legislated minimum wage in the Turkish Cypriot area, while subject to frequent review because of high inflation, was approximately $253 (158 Cyprus pounds) per month as of September. This amount is insufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Unskilled workers typically earn about $416 (260 Cyprus pounds) per month, which is barely adequate to support a family.
In the Greek Cypriot community, the standard workweek in the private sector is an average of 39 hours for white-collar workers and 38 hours for blue-collar workers. In the public sector, it is 38 hours during the winter and 35 hours in the summer. In the Turkish Cypriot community, the standard workweek is 38 hours in the winter and 36 hours in the summer. Labor inspectors effectively enforce these laws.
Reports on the mistreatment of maids and other foreign workers are frequent in the Greek Cypriot press. These reports usually involve allegations that maids, often from East or South Asia, were mistreated by their employers or fired without cause in violation of their contracts. Many women do not complain to authorities, fearing retribution from their employers. Those who do file charges run the risk of being fired and then deported.
A significant percentage of the labor force in the north consists of illegal workers, mostly from Turkey. According to some estimates, illegal workers constitute as much as 25 percent of the total work force there. There are frequent allegations that such workers are subject to mistreatment, including nonpayment of wages and threats of deportation.
In recent years, steps were taken to improve health and safety standards in the workplace in the government-controlled area. A 1997 law harmonized health and safety standards with those in the European Union (EU). The law incorporates EU principles and standards for health and safety in the workplace and complies fully with the 1981 ILO convention on occupational health and safety. A second 1997 law requires employers to provide insurance liability coverage for work-related injuries. According to labor union officials, these laws are effectively enforced.
Occupational safety and health regulations are administered sporadically at best in the Turkish Cypriot area. In both areas, factory inspectors process complaints and inspect businesses in order to ensure that occupational safety laws are observed. Workers in the government-controlled area can remove themselves from dangerous work conditions without risking loss of employment. Turkish Cypriot workers who file complaints do not receive satisfactory legal protection and may face dismissal.
f. Trafficking in Persons
In January the Cypriot legislature passed a law making it a felony to engage in the sexual exploitation and trafficking of adults (with or without their consent) and children. The law obligates the State to provide protection and support for victims and provides for punishment of up to 20 years' imprisonment. No cases were reported by year's end. In January the Turkish Cypriot "National Assembly" passed a law designed to regulate the hiring of women in nightclubs, including penalties for women and employers that engage in prostitution. The law does not prohibit trafficking. A holdover from British preindependence law currently makes it illegal in both communities to procure a woman for prostitution, although the crime is only a misdemeanor. Corruption among law enforcement and immigration personnel is an obstacle to the effective policing of trafficking in both communities. For example, the Chief of the Immigration Department in the government-controlled area was arrested in September 1999 for illegally issuing visas to female nightclub workers and pub owners and was on trial at year's end.
During the year credible reports continued that women were trafficked into both communities for the purpose of prostitution. Agents in Eastern Europe recruited young women for prostitution in the Greek Cypriot community. The women entered either illegally after authorities were bribed or on temporary 3-month work permits. They then sometimes were forced to surrender their passports or forced to stay beyond the period of their work permits and in some cases were not paid their full salaries. The authorities arrested nightclub operators for profiting from prostitution, and the Government made some effort to protect women who bring complaints against employers by allowing them to remain to press charges or facilitate their return home. However, many of the women are reluctant to press charges, fearing retaliation by employers or deportation. A similar pattern exists of the recruitment and hiring of Eastern European women to work in the Turkish Cypriot community, and reports persist of restrictions on nightclub workers, such as confiscation of their passports by employers.