Migrant support group KISA on Wednesday called for the release of a Sri Lankan man who has lived, worked and raised his children in Cyprus with his wife for the past 20 years but who has been detained for living on the island illegally.
According to KISA the man was arrested on July 20 and taken to the Menoyia detention centre to await deportation.
KISA said the couple have been living and working legally in Cyprus continuously since 1993. The family has two children. Their eldest daughter was six years old when they first came and the youngest was born in Cyprus in 2002.
Both have attended schools here. The eldest daughter is currently in the UK, where she is studying law, and the youngest, who has never visited Sri Lanka, speaks, writes and reads Greek as her mother tongue.
In 2002, the wife and mother of the two children applied for Cypriot citizenship, having fulfilled all legal requirements to be naturalized as a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus. The application was rejected in 2004 and she appealed to the Supreme Court, which in its judgment of March 31, 2004 annulled the decision of the administration.
In 2007, the CRMD (Civil Registry and Migration Department) reviewed the application for naturalization but rejected it again. A new appeal was filed against this new decision. In 2010, the Court annulled as yet again the decision of CRMD.
In 2004, the husband also applied for Cypriot citizenship, which was rejected in 2007. This decision was also disputed before the Supreme Court, which in its judgment of February 23, 2010 annulled the decision of the CRMD. Then, the Republic of Cyprus also appealed to the Supreme Court and the trial of the case is still pending.
In the meantime, the competent department failed to proceed as required regarding the review of their request for naturalization in the light of the decisions of the Supreme Court, KISA said.
On July 31 this year the family’s lawyer filed a new appeal against the refusal of the CRMD to review the application for naturalization in accordance with the Supreme Court decision.
The last residence permit granted to the family by the CRMD expired on June 30.
A request for the renewal of their residence permit, submitted by the family’s lawyer in May 2009 before the expiration of the last residence permit, remains unanswered to date, KISA said.
In addition, requests for the renewal of the residence permit of the family submitted by KISA in 2010 also remain unanswered until today, it added.
On July 20 this year the husband was arrested and detained for alleged illegal residence in Cyprus. Since then, he was initially detained in the detention centre of the Limassol Police Station and subsequently to the detention centre in Menoyia for deportation.
The Ombudswoman, published a report on July 31 this year ,which calls for the immediate release of the man, as well as the regulation of the residence permit of the family until the decision with regard to naturalization.
“KISA is of the opinion that the treatment of this family is indicative of the political discrimination regarding granting Cypriot citizenship to eligible migrants, even after 20 years of residence in the country,” the organization said. “This policy also affects migrants’ ability and possibility to have access to European citizenship, after 20 years of residence in the EU, while in other Member States persons under similar conditions can become EU citizens without particular difficulties.”
KISA said it was simply another indication of misuse and abuse of power by the administration and called into question whether the rule of law was prevailing on issues of immigration and asylum in Cyprus.
“KISA condemns the arrest and detention of this person and calls for the intervention of the competent Minister for the immediate release of the husband and father of the two children, the regulation of the residence status of the family according to the Ombudsman’s report and the review of the decision to reject their applications for naturalization, according to the three decisions of the Supreme Court,” it concluded.