Bills that will see reform of the island’s justice system are due for a vote at the House plenum on June 30 with chairman of the House legal committee Fotini Tsiridou on Wednesday urging those involved to “finally” pass them.
Tsiridou, a Disy MP, further stated that the committee is also set to send off by mid-June its bills on femicide and efforts to recruit 300 armed contracted police officers to monitor the green line.
In making her case for the necessity of the justice reform bills, Tsiridou reiterated that Cyprus ranks among the worst in the EU for how long it takes cases to be resolved.
Head of the Cyprus Bar Association Christos Clerides has previously warned of the enormous backlog at the courts, arguing that it has eroded people’s trust in the justice system, as “justice that comes too late is hardly justice”.
Analysts also often point to the sclerotic court system as a barrier for investors who may have otherwise chosen Cyprus.
Tsiridou urged those involved to pass the bills so that “finally Cyprus’ court can have the reforms they require which will benefit the public.
“If we are truly committed to the swift and decisive administration of justice, as well as transparency, we must act quickly and decisively,” she said.
Akel however criticised the current bills as only comprising a part of the reform package, instead of the wider overhaul which was envisaged.
“Neither do [the bills] address the concerns raised by both us and the legal community, neither are we convinced that they will resolve the core issue of delays [in the courts],” Akel MP Aristos Damianou said.
The committee will also send its bills for the government to hire 300 contract officers to better monitor the green line amid a continued surge of migrant crossings.
The government has stressed the necessity for such a force to patrol the buffer zone, as did Tsiridou who cited state records that say 92 per cent of irregular arrivals cross through the green line.
But Greens party leader Charalambos Theopemtou questioned the effectiveness of the proposed unit, saying that they will be unable to prevent such crossings as anyone who makes it through will simply claim asylum and be taken to Pournara. As the sole UN recognised state on the island, the Republic is bound by treaties it has signed.
“If the state wishes to achieve real results they will have to go to the source of the issue,” he said.
Elam MP Sotiris Ioannou said that the increased migration flows constitute “the most important national issue facing Cyprus, which impacts all aspects of public life”.
He expressed his party’s full support for the bill, saying the unit will be another arrow in the quiver in the fight against illegal migration.
Elsewhere, statements made by the MPs on the proposed femicide bills appear to show that progress has been made since the Attorney General rejected a previous version.
House President Annita Demetriou has been pushing for an amendment to the Prevention and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and related issues 2022 Law to make femicide a discrete offence.