A bill reinforcing protections given to victims of crime and their relatives will go to the House floor for a vote soon, after getting the nod from the junior ministry for welfare, the police and the bar association.
The legislative proposal, sponsored by Akel MP Irini Charalambidou, was discussed again at the House human rights committee on Monday.
“Certainly we must do whatever possible to help these people and ease their inconvenience and pain caused by a crime committed against them,” Charalambidou said after the session.
In 2016 Cyprus enacted an EU regulation concerning the rights of victims of crime and their families.
But during a previous discussion in committee, lawmakers said major gaps have been observed in the current legislation. They therefore proposed various amendments to tighten up the law.
On paper at least, when a crime is committed and once the police undertake a case, authorities must brief the victim or the victim’s relatives about the course of investigations within five days at most. In the case of individuals classed as vulnerable, police must provide this briefing within 24 hours.
In practice, this is not rigorously adhered to. As a result, according to Charalambidou, some people end up “being victimised twice”.
And there currently does not exist some entity where relatives’ victims can take recourse to whenever police do not apply these requirements.
The drive to improve the relevant legislation was partly inspired by the case of Christina Kalaitzidou, murdered by her husband in March 2012. Her family, wary of the initial forensic findings that attributed her death to asphyxiation, faced an uphill battle to have Kalaitzidou’s body exhumed. The new examination found the woman had in fact been strangled.
The case was subsequently reopened and the husband arrested. In light of the new evidence he opted to confess to avoid a life sentence. He was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in jail in November of 2014.