With wishes for Christmas and the new year, Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis on Thursday took stock of her first six months in office, highlighting work to tackle corruption, promote road safety and improve conditions at Nicosia Central Prison.
In a written statement, she said the ministry has submitted to parliament bills for an authority against corruption, on lobbyists and whistleblowers and was reviewing the limits of MPs immunity and updating the criminal code on corruption.
The ad hoc team revising bills on justice reform is nearly finished and new bills will be submitted soon, she added.
Other actions include electronic justice, the operation of a judges’ school, doubling the number of judges on the international protection court from five to 10, speeding up delayed cases at Paphos district court and an architectural competition for a new Nicosia court.
Yiolitis said her ministry was promoting the establishment of a children-friendly criminal justice system and implementation of the Istanbul Convention on domestic violence. It has also approved subsidies to women’s organisations for digital training, is supporting the Women’s Safehouse with permanent police presence and established special teams at Nicosia and Limassol CID to investigate complaints of violence.
As regards the prisons and drugs, the ministry has opened a pharmacy within the prisons, signed a memorandum with the Employers and Industrialists Federation, drawn up a list of businesses in consultation with the Bank of Cyprus and Reaction for the professional rehabilitation of released prisoners and set up a half-way house for prisoners.
Protocols have been signed with the education ministry and the national addictions agency for better coordination in schools and created a 500 metre safe zone around schools that provides for tougher penalties for drug trafficking.
A bill has been drafted giving the ombudswoman free access to all detention facilities and the number of beds at Ayia Skepi therapeutic community has been increased from 12 to 17.
As regards police and the fire service, Yiolitis cited the creation of the House of Police in central Limassol and plans for one in Nicosia and the reduction in police guards for politicians from 56 to 35. An international firm is helping with reorganization of police and the autonomy of the fire service.
Tougher penalties have been introduced to promote road safety, the number of drug tests have been doubled and there has also been an increase in breathalyser tests, the minister said referring to efforts to boost road safety.
In addition, a new strategic road safety plan has been approved and the contract for the long-awaited traffic cameras has been awarded.
Finally, approval has been given to relocate the state archives.
The minister thanked justice ministry officials, police and fire service, prison staff and others for their work.
“Some will on duty during these festive days and my thoughts will be with them,” she concluded.