As members of civil society organisations (CSO), we find the March 26 incident by ELAM both deplorable and unacceptable. Occurring as it did at a cross-community peace event. This has shown – once again – that the threats and dangers of fascist actions to our democratic values and national interests have been underestimated by the government and society at large.
We therefore welcome and support your affirmation that “the state will not accept any form of fascist behaviour, from whatever quarter” and your pledge to show “zero tolerance to corruption and abuse of power”.
However, on behalf of the NGOs Cyprus Stop Trafficking and Rights and Duties, I wish to draw your attention that fascist behaviour is not limited to this type of political violence by extreme right-wing groups or organizations.
Unfortunately, fascist behaviour in Cyprus has manifested itself in numerous forms and in actions by some government officials who have shown blatant disregard for human rights and the rule of law, tarnishing the image of the Republic of Cyprus.
In recent months, NGOs and civil society organisations had to take to the streets in order to protest serious violations of the human rights of third-country nationals including women and children. The list of violations include police violence against a pregnant woman leading to her miscarriage; unlawful detention of minor boys and girls; illegal deportation of victims of trafficking or asylum seekers; and arbitrary annulling of marriages.
Although a number of authorities are responsible for those violations, NGOs and CSOs are seriously concerned by the arbitrary practices of the migration department which has repeatedly shown disregard for the decisions of the Supreme Court and the Ombudswoman’s recommendations, to the detriment of vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers.
The political leadership in this country should recognise that upholding human rights is not only a legal and moral obligation of the state, but it is also a matter of vital national interest in the context of efforts to reunite the island. It is obvious that the government of Cyprus will be stronger when its policies and actions match its demands for respect of its own unquestionable and internationally-recognized rights.
We therefore look forward to your pledge that the government and the political forces will work to “ensure full human rights and democratic functions of a full member state of the European Union” and that the known arbitrary practices of the civil registry and migration department in matters of detention, particularly those cases leading to the separation of mothers from their children, will end immediately. We expect that from now on the department will conform to the Supreme Court’s decisions as well as the Ombudswoman’s remarks and suggestions. We further expect that the director of the civil registry and migration department will no longer make arbitrary decisions, and the department show proper respect to the rights of all citizens, Cypriot or foreign.
As a full member of the EU, the Republic of Cyprus is under obligation to put into place effective measures and legislation compatible with their treaty obligations; and to uphold diversity as a guiding principle for the democratic management of society.
Androula Christofidou Henriques