Cyprus
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.

Background

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

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.
Top of page

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.
Top of page

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.

Top of page
World regions Midde East and North Africa Asia Pacific Europe and Central Asia Africa Americas

Jump to a Country Report

Africa

The popular movements across North Africa resonated with people in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in countries with r ...

Americas

On 11 August 2011, Judge Patrícia Acioli was shot 21 times outside her home in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro state, Braz ...

Asia Pacific

As winds of political change blew in from the Middle East and North Africa, several governments in the Asia-Paci ...

Europe and Central Asia

Early one spring morning in a small village in Serbia, one of Europe’s biggest manhunts came to an ...

Middle East and North Africa

For the peoples and states of the Middle East and North Africa, 2011 was a truly momentous year. ...

Amnesty International on social networks

Country Reports

No reports available

Country Visits

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Cyprus in November.