Despite new legislation, trafficking in women for the purposes of sexual exploitation continued. Ten police officers accused of beating two students in 2005 were acquitted. The Law on Refugees was amended in November.
Negotiations between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leadership continued. Among the areas under discussion were property and migration, including restitution and refugee protection. Minority and women’s rights were not addressed within the negotiations.
The UN Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus continued its work. Between January and September the remains of 104 individuals were exhumed from different burial sites located across the island.
Refugees’ and migrants’ rights
In November 2009, the (Amending) Law on Refugees transposed into domestic legislation the EU Asylum Procedures Directive. Under the new legislation and in combination with Article 146 of the Constitution, asylum applicants are entitled to submit an appeal against a negative decision at first instance to the Review Authority for Refugees or the Supreme Court. Asylum applicants can appeal against a negative decision issued by the Review Authority to the Supreme Court. Concerns were expressed that the amendments do not guarantee the right to an effective remedy before a court or tribunal as provided for in Article 39 of the Asylum Procedures Directive, since the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction is limited to a review of the lawfulness and not the merits of a case. The new Law provides a free interpreter for asylum applicants when they appear before the Review Authority and before the Supreme Court under certain conditions. It also provides for the Commissioner for the Rights of the Child to represent unaccompanied minors during asylum proceedings.
In May the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed concern that rejected asylum-seekers and irregular migrants were held for long periods in detention and in inadequate conditions.
In September the police conducted a sweep of migrants living in the old part of Nicosia. Serious concerns were expressed by the Ombudsperson over the way the operation was conducted, such as house raids and the setting up of roadblocks in city streets.
In November the authorities rescued 110 Romanian workers brought to Cyprus by a trafficking ring. The 110 Romanians were living in squalid conditions in a shed in the Nicosia suburb of Tseri.
Violence against women and girls
In May the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed continuing concerns at the extent of trafficking in women for the purposes of sexual exploitation. This was despite the abolition of the system of artists’ visas in 2008, which had contributed to trafficking.
Police and security forces
In March the Nicosia Criminal Court acquitted 10 police officers on trial for offences including cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. They were accused of excessive use of force on two handcuffed students, Marcos Papageorghiou and Yiannos Nicolaou, in December 2005. The acquittal was controversial because of the existence of videotaped footage of the ill-treatment. In November the public prosecutor filed an appeal against the acquittal.