By Stefanos Evripidou
THE HOUSE Interior Committee has once again decided to delay passing of a contested cremation bill that has been under discussion for years, and is widely anticipated by members of the expatriate community in Cyprus.
The Committee decided to send the draft legislation back to the government to work on ironing out key issues that remain pending.
The draft bill was initially approved by the cabinet of the previous AKEL government before taken to parliament for discussion.
Previously, committee chairman Yiannos Lamaris cited the “emotional difficulties” surrounding passage of the bill, noting that traditionally in Cyprus, dead bodies are buried.
Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, DISY MP Andreas Kyprianou said the committee wanted to ensure that cremation is a conscious decision made during one’s life, not a decision taken after death by the deceased’s relatives.
He argued against allowing relatives to make the decision after someone’s death, suggesting a relative could take advantage of an elderly Orthodox Christian suffering from a neurological disorder for example, and choose cremation over burial on their death to save money.
The committee proposed setting up a registry where people could record their wish to be cremated, but the Interior Ministry rejected the idea, insisting on letting the relatives decide, said Kyprianou.
The Health Ministry, meanwhile, has some doubts on whether to issue licences to private crematoriums, believing instead that this should remain in state hands, said the DISY deputy.
Also, the Justice Ministry has voiced reservations on the stipulation that police need to give permission for cremations to take place to remove the possibility of destroying criminal evidence.
Given the differences of opinion between the ministries and the committee, the latter decided to send it back to the government for review.
Asked why the issue was taking so long, Kyprianou insisted that the matter will be wrapped up in the next week or two.
“We are in favour of giving permission (for cremations). The bill will return in around two weeks. There is no chance it won’t be voted by parliament once the necessary changes are made,” he said.
The key sticking point for Kyprianou appears to be the requirement to register a preference for cremation in life by an individual, and not after death by their relatives.