Cyprus has made important changes as regards policies and with regard to the operation of the state prisons and is awaiting the remarks of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Thursday.
Nicolaou, following a meeting with a CPT delegation, on the island to perform spot checks in various detention facilities, including police departments, the central prisons in Nicosia, and the Menoyia immigrants’ detention centre, said the last evaluation was in 2013.
Following the visit, the CPT will prepare its report on Cyprus on the conditions of detention of inmates and detainees, as well as the way they are being treated.
CPT delegations have unlimited access to places of detention, and the right to move inside such places without restriction. They can also interview inmates or detainees in private, and communicate freely with anyone who can provide information.
“The committee’s presence in Cyprus is an opportunity to evaluate our progress so far,” Nicolaou said. He added that he is ready for any remarks and recommendations.
The CPT delegation, which will be in Cyprus until February 9, will also meet with the attorney-general, and the ministers of interior and health. Nicolaou said he will meet with the delegation once more, before their departure.
In its report on its delegation’s 2013 visit, the CPT made claims of abuse, physical violence towards detainees, and improper use of tear gas at Menoyia. The report also mentioned a series of allegations of physical abuse by police officers, mostly from foreign detainees who reported being slapped, punched and kicked in the head mainly by members of the immigration and aliens police (YAM) and of the Crime Investigation Department (CID).
The CPT report had also recommended that the government should come up with a “coherent strategy” to combat the overcrowding problem in the Central Prisons.