Parliament on Monday wrapped up discussion of a bill providing for severe penalties – criminal and otherwise – to persons or legal entities aiding and abetting the unlawful entry of persons into the Republic.
House interior committee chair Giorgos Karoullas (Disy) said the bill provides for prison sentences of up to 15 years and fines up to €200,000.
The proposed legislation aims to crack down on individuals or legal entities who assist illegal migrants in entering, transiting or residing in the Republic.
It’s intended to stem the flows of illegal migrants, primarily via the north of the island.
“Notwithstanding our respect for human dignity and the legitimate refugee who needs protection, we aim to implement severe penalties in order to safeguard our semi-occupied country from attempts to exploit and alter its demographics,” Karoullas said.
The bill, he added, buttresses the existing legal framework and complements the government’s migration policy which has already started showing results.
Recent years have seen an influx of irregular migrants in Cyprus, straining local resources.
The introduction of the legislation comes just as authorities installed barbed wire along stretches of the buffer zone in rural Nicosia to prevent irregular migration from the north.
The government is currently erecting the barbed wire, set to cover areas along the buffer zone near Astromeritis, Peristerona and Akaki – but local farmers are concerned that their livelihoods may be at risk.
Also on Monday the House interior committee discussed a bill – aiming to harmonise with EU legislation – for electronic verification that will introduce digital signatures for people’s interactions with the state.
The bill provides for the establishment of trust service providers who will process the data.
Calling this is a reform and a shift to digital transformation, Karoullas said digital signatures will provide multiple benefits to the economy and the state, cutting administrative costs and red tape.