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Deputies question European Parliament report

Deputies have questioned the report criticism of the long walks to school some children have

By Andria Kades

The House human rights committee is disputing a study conducted by the European Parliament on effects of the economic crisis on human rights in Cyprus saying it was erroneous and exaggerated.

The study, published in March, was discussed on Monday when committee chairman Sophocles Fyttis said that he had briefly read over the report and noted wrong statistics, exaggerations and incorrect conclusions such as harsh attitudes over police behaviour towards foreigners.

An example of the exaggerations noted in the study, Fyttis said, was that it reported children had to walk kilometres to get to school after free transport to school was abolished and students had to pay for bus fares.

On the topic of education, the study said there had been a decrease in the budget and although there was an increase in the number of students referred to psychologists “the number of psychologists remained inadequate”.

A positive note that was highlighted was the free breakfasts offered to students.

Right to housing was affected in Cyprus as well as Belgium, Ireland and Spain “with the increase of foreclosures and evictions and by the interventions into the allocation of social housing and rental allowances.”

Of course, the study included a section over the heated topic on extended shop hours saying that only about 800 jobs were created with the move and that “employers tend to put pressure on their employees to work longer hours – often without overtime pay, rather than hire new personnel.”

Furthermore it outlined that “at least 30 per cent of employers do not keep a working hours schedule, while 72 per cent do not maintain a bill of rights in the service, and 44 per cent do not maintain a schedule of annual leave for their personnel”

The study also made reference to the deposit haircuts in 2013 affecting the right to property and how the crisis has reduced workers right to bargain for better salaries and work conditions.

Also addressing the health service it noted that “Cyprus remains the only EU Member State without a public healthcare scheme. This is partly why it also has one of the lowest expenditure rates in the field” with “the average waiting time for an appointment in a public hospital is seven months – even for life-threatening and serious conditions.”

The committee is expected to discuss the study in a month and have requested a translated version.

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