Amnesty International Report 2006 - Cyprus
|Publication Date||23 May 2006|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Cyprus, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7a420.html [accessed 21 August 2014]|
Foreign nationals were reported to have been unlawfully expelled, arbitrarily detained and ill-treated in police custody. The police allegedly used excessive force against demonstrators and journalists at a picket by striking lorry drivers. State policies failed to provide protection, support, justice or redress to victims of violence in the family.
The de facto separation of the north and south parts of the island persisted, with the northern part remaining unrecognized by the international community. The Committee of Missing Persons, which reconvened in 2005 in an attempt to discover the fate of about 2,000 people missing in ethnic strife since 1963, held further meetings but made little progress.
Detention and deportation of foreign nationals
Experts from the European Union Network of Independent Experts in Fundamental Human Rights expressed concern in January that foreign nationals arriving in Cyprus in 2004 had been deported without being offered access to the asylum process. They cited cases of individuals who had been detained for prolonged periods pending deportation, even in cases where deportation orders could not be carried out or where detainees' asylum applications were under consideration.
Foreign detainees at the Central Prison in Nicosia complained that prison staff mocked them and made racist comments, the Ombudsperson reported in February. She also reported that foreign nationals who had filed asylum applications were being detained in police stations around the country.
In May there were reports that foreign detainees had been beaten while held in poor detention conditions in Limassol police station.
In July the Ombudsperson reported receiving complaints from foreign nationals applying for asylum who said they had been detained in police stations, ill-treated and forced to sign declarations withdrawing their requests for asylum. In one case, an Iranian asylum-seeker was arrested in February, detained for three months in Limassol police station and subsequently expelled to Iran. He had been arrested after he visited the police station to inform the Cypriot authorities that his address had changed. In her report, the Ombudsperson said that his arrest and detention were arbitrary, and that the expulsion was in violation of the principle of non-refoulement which states that those seeking asylum should not be forcibly returned to countries where they risked serious human rights abuses.
Excessive use of force
On 18 July members of the special police Mobile Immediate Response Unit were alleged to have used excessive force against demonstrators and journalists at a picket by striking lorry drivers. In response to a complaint by the Union of Journalists, the Ombudsperson carried out an investigation. She concluded that the police had exhibited "unpardonable negligence" and failed to inform the strikers about their "intention to ensure, using any possible means, including violence, lorry access across the picket line". The Ombudsperson also concluded that "the situation [which led to the beating and arrest of one cameraman in particular] was not of an intensity or gravity and did not bear a serious or direct danger such that would justify the involvement of the police officer in charge [as was the case]". Her report recommended that the police reconsider their role in policing future demonstrations to ensure that the public's right to freedom of information was not compromised and that their actions during the policing of such demonstrations were not excessive.
Cyprus had not formulated a National Action Plan to combat domestic violence, according to the Swedish organization Kvinnoforum (Women's Forum) in a report in March. Experts from the local Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies identified a number of failures in state policies on violence in the home. These included limited psychological support to victims; a lack of coordination between police and the judiciary; the absence of training for lawyers and judges; the lack of information in foreign languages to assist non-Cypriot victims; and the non-existent legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.