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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 10-03-12

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [03] FM UAE VISIT


    US State Department 2009 human rights report on Cyprus has been divided once again into two sections, one for the Republic of Cyprus and one for the ``Area Administered by Turkish Cypriots``, which is how they call Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.

    The report noted that ``since 1974 the southern part of Cyprus has been under the control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus, while the northern part, administered by Turkish Cypriots, proclaimed itself the `Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (`TRNC`) in 1983.``

    As it is stressed ``the United States does not recognize the `TRNC`, nor does any country other than Turkey. A substantial number of Turkish troops remained on the island. A buffer zone, or `green line` patrolled by the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), separates the two parts.``

    According to the State Department, there were problems reported in some areas as regards the situation of human rights in the government controlled areas of the Republic of Cyprus, the 2009 US State Department Report on Cyprus has said.

    As it is noted ``there were reports of police abuse and degrading treatment of persons in custody and asylum seekers. Violence against women, including spousal abuse, and several incidents of violence against children were reported.``

    Moreover, there were instances of discrimination against members of minority ethnic and national groups. Trafficking of women to the island, particularly for sexual exploitation, continued to be a problem, and labor trafficking was also reported.

    As regards torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment the report said that there were reports that police abused detainees and there continued to be reports that police engaged in heavy-handed tactics and degrading treatment of suspects.

    Concerning conditions in prisons, detention centers, and other government institutions generally met international standards, although there have been reports of overcrowding.

    As it is noted, during the year the ombudsman and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) received complaints that police subjected inmates to physical abuse and discriminatory treatment.

    The ombudsman reported discriminatory treatment of Turkish Cypriot inmates regarding their access to facilities at the Central Prison.

    The State Department said that during the year overcrowding remained the Nicosia Central Prison`s greatest problem, despite renovation and expansion. Prison authorities acknowledged that many of the prison buildings, constructed prior to 1960, needed renovation. Construction work was underway to increase capacity and improve sanitary conditions. In September, the ombudsman complained via the media that such overcrowding created problems for prisoners` health and welfare. The prison`s capacity was 340, but at times it housed up to 750 inmates.

    Approximately 73 percent of the detainees were foreigners imprisoned for illegal entry, stay, and employment, as well as theft, burglary, false pretenses, and other offenses. The ombudsman reported that, due to overcrowding, convicted criminals were not separated from pretrial detainees, and both long- and short-term prisoners were kept together.

    In contrast to previous years, NGOs and refugees reported that the Asylum Service was better staffed and processed applications more quickly. Of the 37,750 applicants who filed from 2002 to the end of 2009, 257 were granted full refugee status and 2,013 were granted subsidiary protection status. During the year the government did not deport any refugees, and authorities granted full refugee status to 49 persons. The law forbids the detention of minor asylum seekers.

    In contrast to previous years, refugees and NGOs did not report any asylum cases being closed without consideration or receiving a government response.

    NGOs and asylum seekers alleged that the Nicosia District Welfare Office continued to be inconsistent in the delivery of benefits to eligible asylum seekers. The ombudsman examined many such complaints and reported that, in many cases, the allegations were well founded, and her office made suggestions for remedial action.

    The State Department said that in practice, the government provided protection against the expulsion or return of refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

    During the year, 540 cases of domestic violence were reported to police. Police initiated criminal investigations of 290 of these. In 80 percent of the cases, the victims were female.

    Police reported the arrest and investigation of 22 individuals for suspected involvement in 11 cases of prostitution during the year. At year`s end, authorities continued to investigate five of the cases, four cases were awaiting trial, and two cases had been otherwise resolved.

    Child abuse was a problem. The Welfare Department reported an 8.8 percent increase in cases of child abuse during the year compared with 2008. The Welfare Department stated that some cases of abuse were linked to domestic violence, alcohol abuse, psychological illness, and cultural perceptions. Police reported that 32 cases of child abuse were prosecuted during the year. Of those, eight resulted in convictions, one in acquittal, 20 were pending trial at year`s end, and three were withdrawn, suspended, or interrupted.

    There were widespread reports that persons were trafficked to, through, and within the country. During the year there was a sharp increase in the number of victims of labor trafficking. Police continued to identify victims of sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The police antitrafficking unit remained understaffed, although in September a new member was added to its four-member staff.

    According to the State Department, the country was primarily a destination for women trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Although the government generally acknowledged its trafficking problem, some authorities continued to tolerate the situation despite the 2005 adoption of a national action plan to combat trafficking in persons and sexual exploitation of children. The country was a destination for women trafficked from the Philippines, Moldova, Morocco, Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Ukraine, and Romania.

    Police participated in or assisted with 42 international trafficking investigations and requested assistance from Europol and Interpol in six trafficking investigations.

    Also despite legal protections, gays and lesbians faced significant societal discrimination, and few lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) persons were open about their sexual orientation, according to the report.

    As regards the areas of the Republic under Turkish occupation since 1974, the report said ``police abuse of detainees and prison conditions were particular problems. There were restrictions on the rights of asylum seekers and no regulatory infrastructure to handle asylum applications or to protect the rights of asylum seekers. Trafficking in persons continued to be a problem.``


    The Cypriot government`s strategic aim is to maintain and further strengthen the political and financial relations between Cyprus and Russia, Cypriot Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis has said.

    Addressing a conference on the financial crisis, organized by the Cypriot-Russian business association on Thursday, Stavrakis said the visit of Russian President Dimitry Medvedev the coming October is the best proof of how important these relations are considered.

    Referring to the Cypriot economy, Stavrakis said the financial situation of Cyprus is better than the Euro area`s average, pointing out that the budget deficit of Cyprus is less than 6%, whereas the Euro area`s average is 7%.

    [03] FM UAE VISIT

    Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Kyprianou departs Friday afternoon for Abu Dhabi. Kyprianou will pay an official visit to United Arab Emirates, on March 12-14.

    An official press release issued here says that Kyprianou will have official talks with his counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan during which they will review bilateral relations and examine ways of further enhancing them both in the political, the financial and the commercial front.

    Kyprianou and Al Nahyan will discuss relations between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council. The Cypriot FM will brief his counterpart on the present phase of the UN-led direct negotiations for a settlement to the Cyprus problem, which began in September 2008.


    Minister of Commerce Industry and Tourism, Antonis Paschalides, is currently in Berlin, where he holds contacts with a view to attract tourism from Germany.

    In statements during a press conference at the ITB exhibition in Berlin, the worlds leading travel trade show, the Cypriot Minister described the German market as a market of high priority for the Cypriot tourism.

    He expressed satisfaction with the fact that the number of German tourists in 2009, despite the world economic crisis, reached 131.000 and expressed conviction that Cyprus can attract more tourists from Germany this year.

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