Parents should be entitled to child benefits irrespective of the duration of their stay in Cyprus, Commissioner for Children’s Rights Leda Koursoumba has said.
In a memo addressed to parliament, Koursoumba said that current legislation and practices discriminate against those families who have not been living legally for at least five years in the areas controlled by the Republic.
The law states that in order to be eligible for child benefits, a parent must have been residing continuously for five years in Cyprus.
Koursoumba said she has received several complaints on this matter. Those affected are chil-dren under international protection status, children of EU nationals, and children who are Cyp-riot citizens but who have been living in Cyprus for less than five years.
For example: Cypriot citizens who are repatriated, children of Turkish Cypriots or the Turkish Cypriot Roma people who relocated to the areas controlled by the Republic, and children who are Cypriot citizens and who live with a single parent who is a non-EU national.
“It cannot be that a child is deprived of benefits due to their ethnic background or the duration of their stay in the areas controlled by the Republic,” the commissioner stated in her memo.
She went on to point out a discrepancy in the laws. For example, whereas anyone who legally resides in Cyprus is eligible for Guaranteed Minimum Income, regardless of how long they have resided here, the same is not true when it comes to child benefit.
“Saving money for fiscal reasons does not justify decisions that discriminate between citizens of equal status, as in the case of children with Cypriot nationality,” Koursoumba noted.
The issue was discussed at the House labour committee.
Committee chair Andreas Fakondis said later: “It is tragic that we leave children without the means of subsistence simply because of the requirement that they reside in Cyprus for five years.
“All children should have equal rights.”