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Cyprus

More police and judges a priority, says justice minister

Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides

Hiring more police officers and appointing additional judges are among the priorities of the justice ministry going forward, Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides told MPs on Monday.

He was speaking at the House finance committee, reviewing his ministry’s budget for 2020.

Backlog is a perennial problem plaguing the swift administering of justice, Savvides said. To deal with it, the courts will soon be hiring 32 new judges, most of whom are expected to be appointed by the beginning of next year.

Also in 2020 construction works will begin on the new Nicosia district court complex. Costed at about €70m, the project is expected to be finished in 2024.

Reorganising the structure and operation of the police force is another priority for the government, the minister said. Tenders are being put out to hire consultants who will propose ways of better managing human resources, among others.

Understaffing will be tackled by hiring an extra 200 police officers in 2020.

Savvides noted that his ministry has submitted to parliament a bill relating to whistleblowers exposing corruption in both the public and private spheres. The bill provides for additional safeguards, to encourage prospective whistleblowers to come forward.

Commenting on the ministry’s work, Akel MP Aristos Damianou said reforming the justice system is a pressing issue, given that the system “has for years teetered on the brink of collapse”.

Damianou said his party will support any measures aimed at reform. But at the same time, he criticised the government for the public’s sense of insecurity, for example over recent revelations over the ‘spy van’.

The police have launched an investigation into potential data privacy violations by the Larnaca-based company which owns the surveillance equipment.

The justice ministry budget for 2020 provides for €332m in expenditures, compared to €301m in 2019.

Of the total, €262m (or 79 per cent) have been allocated to payroll.

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