Cyprus Mail

New law proposes DNA testing to weed-out false declarations of paternity

The government is seeking to crack down on sham paternity declarations by changing the law, after cases emerged of EU nationals claiming children born to migrant mothers as their own.

Such a declaration grants the mother and child greater rights and benefits.

But the proposed amendment would provide the district officer with the power to call for DNA tests to be taken to prove parentage, should a case appear suspicious.

In June, the Cyprus Mail reported on the interior minister’s confirmation that a resident of Germany acknowledged four children from three different women as his own, all of whom happened to be asylum seekers in Cyprus.

A man with a Swedish passport was paid €5,000 to falsely claim a child of a migrant woman in Cyprus as his, according to Phileleftheros.

Amendments to the law were put to parliament last month and published in the government newspaper on Friday, with a House interior committee set to soon debate the motion.

Authorities were alerted to this type of suspicious activity at the beginning of 2022 as a pattern of such cases began to emerge – with the deputy social welfare ministry and the interior ministry monitoring the situation.

The police have so far investigated eight such cases – four of which have ended up in court. The other four are said to be at an advanced stage.

The interior minister previously said that the police were aware of 31 such cases within three months.

In all cases the mothers are of African origin while in most cases the declared fathers are Greek Cypriot, while others were simply EU nationals.

But the proposed amendments have raised concern over personal information and weakening human rights.

In seeking to pass the amendments, the interior ministry has asked the attorney general for his opinion.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris previously criticised an apparent weakness in the current legislation to handle such a phenomenon, as up until 2015 it was required that DNA tests be undertaken to provide proof of parentage. That criterion, however, was dropped as it was deemed illegal over human rights concerns.

Nouris said that new legislation was being prepared to handle the issue, and that orders have been given to not issue birth certificates if there are doubts over the parentage while the new legislation is being drafted.

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