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Government in talks for building to house court for asylum cases

outgoing Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou

The government on Tuesday decided to initiate discussions with a private company with a view to purchasing a building owned by the company to house the new International Protection Administrative Court.

Under the law establishing it, the International Protection Administrative Court (Ipac) is to be based in Nicosia.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the cabinet, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said a building has been earmarked in a location close to the courts complex.

The land registry will produce an estimate of the building’s value and submit it to the government. After that, the government will enter into talks with the owner with a view to buying the premises.

Nicolaou said that procedures are underway to appoint two judges to the new court.

The Ipac was established by law in July of this year, but has yet to go operational.

It is separate to the administrative court, established in 2015. The administrative court was created to relieve the workload of the supreme court. It handles appeals concerning decisions by government bodies, including asylum applications, public sector jobs and promotions, and tax matters.

By contrast, the Ipac will exclusively handle asylum cases, taking that task away from the administrative court.

The Ipac will be competent for examining applications relating to provisions of the Refugee Law, including appeals against negative decisions on asylum applications, Dublin transfer decisions or decisions reducing or withdrawing reception conditions.

Earlier, Nicolaou said that establishing a dedicated court for asylum cases was necessary, as it would contribute to a more rapid examination of pending asylum appeals, against the backdrop of a rising backlog of cases before the administrative court.

Appeals against asylum decisions take approximately two years to be decided.

Nicolaou has said that some asylum applicants take advantage of this lag. By lodging applications with the administrative court, as is currently the case, applicants are able to extend their stay in Cyprus by two to three years.

Asylum applicants are also entitled to benefits.

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