EAPN Cyprus emphasizes that, “there should be structural changes in the Cypriot system to safeguard human rights and respect of conventions, treaties and directives and to stop giving over authority and power to public servants to act outside – or contrary to – court decisions”.EAPN held its General Assembly in Cyprus in 2010 and at the time held a conference on the theme of migration and poverty.
Statement by KISA
Inhumane Detention Conditions – Solidarity with detainees on hunger strike
After requests from many people in detention, KISA has visited the Nicosia Detention Centre where it found that a large number of people had been on a hunger strike for several days now. People are on hunger strike as a way of expressing their anger and despair to the authorities that are keeping them detained in prison cells under gruesome conditions, while for a lot of them their detention period has been extended without an official lawful explanation.KISA has also found out that the only offence of the vast majority of the people detained is their stay in the territory of the Republic Cyprus without the required permit from the relevant authorities.
According to European and International law, this is not a criminal offence and, therefore, according to the recent decision of the European Community Court, no person can be imprisoned merely because of his or her unlawful stay in a country. The authorities of the Republic, bypassing the above rules, keep these people in detention without any court decisions but on decisions of the Immigration Officer, who issues Orders for detention and deportation for illegal stay, with the prior knowledge in many instances that for various legal or practical reasons these decisions cannot be executed. As a result, people remain forgotten in various detention centres, in breach of the European Union Directive which specifies clearly the maximum amount of time that a person should be detained for, prior to deportation.
Over and above the above general assessment, KISA has also found out the following information regarding particular cases: A person has been detained for a period of 27 months without a court order and without a prospect for deportation to his country.
Another person who was released 6 months ago after being in detention for three and a half years, once again without court order or prospect for deportation, was arrested again and is now being detained for the last two months. Despairing of his situation, this person has attempted to put an end to his life.
A third person, for whom the Supreme Court ordered his immediate release in response to an appeal for unlawful detention over the maximum amount of time that one can be legally detained, was arrested again last August while at the Supreme Court and has since then been held in detention. This person was released in 2008 after a three-year detention without a judicial decision or a possibility for his compulsory repatriation.
A fourth person, who has also attempted to commit suicide, has been held for about a year now in order to testify in a criminal case against a policeman from the Immigration Department, who was employing him but refused to pay him, threatening him constantly with the prospect of deportation.
A Kurdish couple from Turkey, who sought protection 10 years ago and whose application was closed by the authorities without examining the substance of their application that they would be persecuted if they returned to Turkey, was arrested and detained for deportation because they participated in a protest in front of the Ministry of Interior. Their children were taken away from them and placed in care homes. After several weeks of not going to school, the children were transferred to other schools in Nicosia, despite the fact that a suitable family expressed the wish to host the children in the village where they lived so that they could at least be in a familiar environment until the whole family’s fate was decided by the authorities. The wife of a recognized refugee and a mother of a young child has been detained for deportation purposes as she has been informed that her “marriage was not recognized as it was a Muslim one”.
She was therefore not given a residence permit as a family member of a recognized refugee. A significant number of Syrian nationals have been detained in order to be returned to Syria despite the turbulent situation in the country and the fact that many of them come from worn-torn areas and have already expressed their fear of persecution and the possibility of encountering inhumane treatment in case of a mandatory repatriation.
KISA condemns the above human rights violations and calls on the government
- To adapt immediately the practice of detention and deportation as defined by European and International law, especially its obligation to detain people only as a last resort.
- To transpose as quickly as possible into domestic law the Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Union that regulates the detention and deportation of third country nationals.
- To examine immediately and to release those detained for more than 6 months.
- In view of the prevailing situation in Syria, to immediately terminate its policy of detention and compulsory repatriation of persons to that country.
- To ensure that no one is detained for return to their countrybefore effectively examining the possibility that the person could be persecuted, tortured or treated in an inhumane and degrading manner by the authorities of their country upon return.
- To respect the essential needs and rights of children whendetaining parents for whatever reason or for repatriation purposes, as provided for under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. KISA finally called on a demonstration to protest on 3 November 2011, in front of the Ministry of Interior.
KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism P.O. Box 22113, 1517 Nicosia, Cyprus Tel : 00357 22 878181 – Fax: 00357 22 773039email: firstname.lastname@example.org – web:www.kisa.org.cy; http://www.kisa.org.cy/