A court challenge into the legality of an arrest warrant issued against a British mother for calling a local community leader ‘useless’ in the comments section of a Facebook post has been launched, according to Justice Abroad.
Justice Abroad is assisting a British mother, Kaela Charalampous, (a singer who uses the stage name Kaela Santosh). She lives in Mandria in Paphos and was arrested in front of her young child after describing the community leader of Mandria village as ‘useless’ in a comment under a Facebook post regarding works being carried out in the village, they announced on Friday.
The organisation’s Michael Polak said that it was very worrying that a court, and police, did not realise that the allegations made against Charalampous were not criminal offences when her right to freedom of expression is taken into account.
“The issuing of arrest warrants against an individual on the request of a powerful local politician over comments, which are clearly political discussion has the potential to have a chilling effect on freedom of expression of people living in Cyprus. They need to have confidence that they have the right to discuss their elected representatives and will not be subject to oppressive acts like being arrested and charged for doing so,” Polak said.
Justice Abroad, (www.justiceabroad.co.uk), has been set up to help those trying to find their way through foreign justice systems, and in this case is working alongside human rights law firm Nicoletta Charalambidou LLC Advocates.
Despite charges being dropped on April 27, 2021, no apology has been forthcoming, Polak said.
On May 31, an application for a judicial review was launched to challenge the legality of the arrest warrant which was issued by Paphos District Court on April 16, on an application made by Paphos police, Justice Abroad noted.
The Supreme Court granted leave to apply for a hearing which will take place on June 16.
The warrant stated that because of the Facebook comment made by Charalampous regarding the community leader, there were ‘reasonable suspicions’ that she had committed a number of named offences.
Charalampous commented on a Facebook post discussing the performance of the elected mayor with the following comment:
“He will not get another term. He never should have gotten this one. I’m glad it’s not just the Cypriot community that know how USELESS he is!!”
Written submissions were made to the attorney-general of Cyprus, Giorgos Savvides, and to Cypriot Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis, requesting they confirm the charges would be dropped, a public apology for the ‘unlawful actions’ taken against the mum by the court and police would be made, and that she would not be subject to any repercussions from the authorities.
“Expression which concerns elected officials is especially protected within the European Court of Human Rights’ case law with the Court previously holding that freedom of political debate is at the very core of the concept of a democratic society which prevails throughout the Convention.”
A crowdfunding page has been set up to raise £2,000 to help the singer with legal costs: