By Poly Pantelides
AUTHORITIES continue locking up in poor conditions those migrants who enter the island illegally or whose asylum application is rejected, without considering any alternatives, Amnesty International has said.
In its annual 2013 report looking back on the state of human rights in 2012, Amnesty International said in Cyprus, “irregular migrants, rejected asylum-seekers and certain categories of asylum-seekers were detained for prolonged periods.”
“Detention appeared routine with no alternative measures being considered,” the report said.
People were locked up in “poor conditions in unsuitable facilities, such as short-stay police cells and two wings of Nicosia Central Prison,” Amnesty International said.
Earlier this year however, the purpose-built detention facility in Menoyia capable of holding 276 people was finally up and running. Nonetheless, inmates complained this March they were prohibited from using mobile phones while some of them claimed they were beaten and pepper sprayed by police, which authorities denied.
Amnesty international’s report said it seemed “arbitrary, unnecessary and unlawful,” to detain people for immigration purposes even when they could not be deported. For example, Syrian nationals could not be sent back during their country’s internal armed conflict but were nonetheless held for “several months”.
One Iranian man whose asylum application was rejected, was held for 14 months as there was no realistic prospect for his deportation, the report said. Majid Eazadi was repeatedly detained for deportation purposes between 2008 and 2011 despite the Ombudswoman’s repeated letters expressing concern. Eventually, the Supreme Court ordered his release in November, however Amnesty International said that Supreme Court judgements – ordering the release of individuals kept longer than the lawful six months in most cases – were not always respected.
“Upon their release, those individuals were immediately re-detained on the same grounds as before.”
Delegates for Amnesty International – an independent body funded by membership and donation but accepting no help from governments – visited Cyprus in June and October last year.