By George Psyllides
INTERIOR Minister Socratis Hasikos has decided to release three mothers held at a migrant detention centre after they cooperated with authorities to facilitate their departure from Cyprus.
Two of the women held at the Menoyia detention centre are from Cameroon and the third is from China. All three have children, the youngest aged 18 months.
The ministry said in a statement yesterday that the women’s deportation would be postponed.
Authorities have not provided an official reason for their detention but it is possible they are held because their marriages were deemed a fake by the Immigration Services.
Two of the women are married to EU citizens, while the third is married to a compatriot.
The ministry’s decision follows a scathing report by Amnesty International, which had said there could be no excuse for separating a woman who has committed no crime from her children.
“The treatment of migrants in Cyprus at the moment is degrading and unnecessary,” the report had said.
The ministry reiterated that detaining irregular migrants in general and parents in particular for deportation purposes, was used as a last resort to ensure their forced removal from the Republic after exhausting all other ways in a bid to have them return voluntarily.
Since January 2013, the state has issued 5,369 deportation or detention orders – 4,537 in 2013 and 832 this year – with “only 39” involving mothers (36 last year and three so far in 2014).
“In fact, most of these cases did not only concern illegal entry or long term residence, but participation in criminal offenses like impersonation, fake marriage, prostitution, etc,” the ministry said.
And prosecution had been suspended with a view of deporting them.
“Even in such cases, when the female detainees show a will to cooperate with the authorities for their repatriation, they are conditionally discharged … until their departure.”
The ministry added that underage children were put under the protection of the welfare services, “except when the parents deliberately conceal the existence of children or their place of residence.”
Non-governmental organisations dealing with such issues should help towards securing the individuals’ cooperation for voluntary departure in a bid to avoid forced removals or extension of their detention because they refuse to collaborate with the authorities, the ministry said.