By Peter Stevenson
DEPUTIES are hoping for a vote on the establishment of a crematorium before parliament closes for summer recess in July, the House Interior Committee heard yesterday.
The issue of building a crematorium was first tabled at parliament in 2000 but it was only in January this year that the cabinet approved a new draft bill, which is now at committee level.
During the discussions at the committee yesterday, deputies heard that Cyprus was one of the few European countries left that did not have legislation regulating the cremation of human remains, despite pressure over the years for the creation of a crematorium from non Greek Orthodox, and foreign residents on the island who say it would be a cheaper option for them and their families.
Under the new law those wishing to choose cremation for themselves or their relatives will need a cremation permit which will be issued by the district officer or specially licensed crematoriums, the committee heard yesterday.
The legislation will also allow the state pathologist to prevent a cremation even if it has been permitted by the district officer or crematorium, if an investigation or post mortem into a death is required.
Chairman of the internal committee, Yiannos Lamaris said the new bill would allow people to choose cremation for themselves before they pass away, if that is their wish.
“We discussed the possibility of making crematoriums state-run,” he said.
In addition to foreign residents, the right to be cremated after death is believed to be an idea that would also be embraced by Cypriots. A 2006 earlier draft bill did not include Cypriots but it was amended some three years later to redress the inequality.
At present, the only choice for those who want to be cremated is to fork out thousands of euros for their body to be embalmed and transported to a country of their choice.
The delay in legislation regulating cremation of human remains has been attributed to the Church’s long-standing objections.
Lamaris said he would seek the views of the Church before moving forward. He said Church representatives were invited to the meeting yesterday but no one showed.
Bishops have said in the past they would not perform a funeral service for anyone who planned to be cremated.