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.Top of page
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.
There were several allegations of ill-treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers by police.
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.Top of page