The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) has called on Turkey to give access to a greater number of military zones in the north in the search for the remains of missing persons.
A resolution adopted during a Committee of Ministers special meeting in which it examined the state of implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), welcomed the progress made by the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) in the search for and the identification of missing persons and noted in this respect that 2014 was a landmark year as regards the number of persons identified.
It highlighted however that due to the passage of time, “the necessity for the Turkish authorities to adopt a proactive approach to providing the CMP with all the assistance it needs to continue to achieve tangible results as quickly as possible”.
The resolution goes on to “invite” the Turkish authorities “of their own initiative” to give it access to a greater number of military zones as well as to continue to provide all relevant information, including that which may come from military reports and archives;
It also called the Turkish authorities to keep the Committee informed of progress in all investigations, including steps to be taken, in line with the Court’s settled case-law and invited delegations wishing to transmit written questions to the members of the CMP as well as to the Turkish authorities to submit them to the CoE Secretariat by the end of September 2015. In March 2016 the issue would be considered again, it said.
In addition, the resolution recalled that the obligation to pay the just satisfaction awarded by the ECHR was unconditional and invited the Turkish authorities to pay the sums awarded by the Court in cases concerning Cyprus.
The list of missing persons includes 1,508 Greek Cypriots, 43 of whom went missing between 1963-`64 when intercommunal violence broke out in Cyprus. The list also includes 493 Turkish Cypriots, 229 of whom are thought to have been lost during the period 1963-1967. Some 264 Turkish Cypriots went missing during 1974.
Figures from March this year showed that so far 435 identifications of Greek Cypriots were carried out and 138 on Turkish Cypriots. Approximately 200 cases are in the stage of anthropological or genetic analysis, while 100 Greek Cypriot missing cannot be identified and the remains of 800 missing persons are still to be located. In most of the cases the families of the missing persons have given DNA for the appropriate analysis. Thirty-four of the exhumation sites are in ‘military zones’ in the north. However not all of these sites are actually military camps.
The exhumation process is being carried out by seven teams in the north and two in the south. Each unit comprises four scientists, two Greek Cypriots and two Turkish Cypriots.
A huge problem came to light this years was the removal and relocation of remains, making the job of identification even more difficult.