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Cyprus

More legal staff to deal with asylum cases

migrants outside the kokkinotrimithia refugee camp on the outskirts of nicosia

Cabinet has tweaked the legislation to hire far more judges and court staff to decongest the backlog of asylum seeker applications.

The courts are currently facing a backlog of 20,000 cases, unable to get over the constant flow of paperwork with 10,000 new claims made each year.

The international protection administrative court (Ipac) began operating in June 2019 and is tasked with examining appeals relating to provisions of the refugee law, including appeals against rejections of asylum applications.

The number of Ipac judges has risen three times so far, starting with three when it launched, but later rising to five in August 2020 and eventually to ten.

Last week cabinet amended the legislation to allow the court to hire additional judges and staff to resolve the backlog. Notably, the court was told to hire as many staff as deemed necessary.

The interior minister has previously said that court cases have surged as asylum seekers appeal their rejected applications, which are being processed at higher rates than before – meaning that more are ending up in court.

Reports indicate that it costs the state millions each year, while those appealing continue to receive assistance.

It’s understood that Cyprus is under pressure by the EU to fulfil its obligations in offering speedy reviews of applications made by asylum seekers. Applications previously took up to a year to receive judgement.

Cyprus has been undergoing a migration surge during the past five years, with the interior ministry stating that applications have soared from 7,761 in 2018 to 21,565 in 2022.

Recent moves, however, aim to assist in partially resolving the issue – such as Cyprus hoping to sign repatriation deals with other countries.

The latest was in December, when Cyprus and India signed a letter of intent for a ‘migration and mobility partnership’, initiating the process for an eventual agreement on migration between the two nations.

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