Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Cyprus
|Publication Date||24 May 2012|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Cyprus, 24 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fbe394341.html [accessed 7 March 2014]|
Head of state and government: Demetris Christofias
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 1.1 million
Life expectancy: 79.6 years
Under-5 mortality: 3.5 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 97.9 per cent
Hundreds of irregular migrants, including rejected asylum-seekers, were detained for prolonged periods in poor conditions solely due to their immigration status.
Negotiations between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders continued on issues such as power-sharing.
In November, new legislation seeking to transpose the EU Returns Directive into domestic law came into force amid concern that people were languishing in immigration detention. It set six months as the maximum length of pre-removal immigration detention, with extensions of up to 18 months under certain circumstances.
In December, Parliament enacted legislation giving powers to the Office of the Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsperson) to act as the national human rights institution.
Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants
Migrants, including asylum-seekers whose claims had been rejected, were detained in extremely poor conditions solely due to their immigration status. The use of unsuitable facilities, such as short-stay police cells and two wings in Nikosia Central Prison, also gave rise to concern. Detainees reported limited or no access to legal assistance and health care.
In December, about 200 migrants languished in immigration detention. Many of them had no immediate prospects of being removed from Cyprus. As a result, their detention appeared arbitrary, unnecessary and therefore unlawful. The Supreme Court ordered the release of some detainees on the grounds that their detention had been unlawfully prolonged. However, they were immediately re-detained, following their release, on the same grounds as before.
A new immigration detention facility in Mennoia, with capacity for 276 people, was due to begin operation early in 2012. The EU had financed 30 per cent of its construction.
In December, a Tamil asylum-seeker was forcibly returned to Sri Lanka following a negative decision by the Reviewing Authority on his appeal against the initial rejection of his claim. The circumstances of his forced return gave rise to concerns that he had been denied the opportunity to apply both for a judicial review of the decision before the Supreme Court and for the suspension of his deportation.
Police and security forces
There were several allegations of ill-treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers by police.
In July, according to reports, about 35 police officers severely beat, threatened and verbally abused a group of asylum-seekers detained in Larnaca police station. One of the asylum-seekers reportedly suffered injuries to one leg and was denied medical assistance for several days. Investigations into the incident by the Ombudsperson and police complaints authority were pending at the end of the year.
Human rights defenders
Concerns were expressed by international refugee and migrant NGOs over the prosecution of the executive director of pro-equality NGO, KISA, after the authorities brought criminal charges against him "for rioting and participating in an illegal assembly". The charges related to events at the anti-racism Rainbow Festival in Larnaca in November 2010, in which participants were reportedly attacked by members of an anti-migrant demonstration. The December hearing was postponed until February 2012.