By Andria Kades
THE European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is expected to issue a decision today for 17 Syrian Kurds who applied for asylum in Cyprus but were deported to Syria despite claims that they are at risk of torture and ill treatment as an oppressed minority.
Sixteen of the Syrians entered Cyprus illegally between 2004 and 2011 while the 17th came using a tourist visa. They all subsequently applied for asylum.
Filed to the ECHR in 2010, the first case deals with two married Syrian nationals of Kurdish origin currently living in Cyprus while the second case involves 12 Syrian nationals of Kurdish origin and two Ajanib – registered stateless Kurds- who were deported in 2012.
The majority of them lived in Syria while some live in northern Iraq, Austria, Greece and Cyprus, according to the ECHR.
The third case deals with a Syrian national of Kurdish origin who left the island voluntarily in 2012 and currently lives in northern Iraq.
In a press release, the ECHR said: “14 of the applicants’ claims were dismissed by the asylum authorities, essentially on the basis that their claims lacked credibility and that they had failed to make a plausible case that they were at risk of persecution and were in need of international protection.”
The remaining three applicants had their files closed and their cases discontinued as they had not showed up to scheduled interviews. However in June 2010 the ECHR issued an interim ruling to the Cyprus government saying they should not deport the applicants to Syria until the cases were examined, according to the press release. Although it was lifted for the second and third cases it still remains in force for the first one.
Applicants also complained over an incident on June 11, 2010 that during a protest at a street camp in front of government buildings against the asylum authorities, they were taken to police headquarters and some were deported on the same day.
Those found to be living in Cyprus lawfully were allowed to leave. However the majority “were charged with unlawful stay and then detained on the basis of detention and deportation orders issued against them on the same day. The rest of the applicants were detained on the basis of detention and deportation orders that had been issued earlier on.”
The applicants involved in the first case were detained for just over 11 months and released in May 2011 while nine of the applicants in the second case were detained for just over three months. They were deported in late September or early October 2010, after the ECHR interim measure in their case was lifted, according to the press release.
The five other applicants remained in detention after the interim measure was lifted and were deported three months later in December 2010 while the individual in the third case was detained for just over 10 months and released in April 2011.
Their complaints include lawfulness of detention, right to be informed promptly of the reasons for arrest concerning their transfer and stay at police headquarters and their ensuing detention, the alleged lack of an effective remedy at their disposal to challenge the lawfulness of this detention and that the authorities were going to deport them collectively without carrying out an individual assessment of their cases.