Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

MPs angry that prison modernising bill is late

Nicosia central prison

The justice ministry irked the parliamentary legal affairs committee on Wednesday, after it failed to submit to deputies a revised bill on modernising the prisons, so as to comply with decisions handed down by the European Court of Human Rights.

With MPs and stakeholders alike expressing their annoyance with the delay, a representative from the ministry told the House legal affairs committee the government would need 10 more days to finalise everything.

Nonetheless, a legal service representative countered the bill would still need more time, suggesting that the 10-day timeframe would not be possible.

“It is very important the justice ministry works faster to submit the revised document to the committee as soon as possible,” said chairwoman of the committee and Disy MP Fotini Tsiridou.

This is absolutely necessary as the Republic must harmonise its laws in accordance with the Council of Europe and Council of Ministers, which urge Cyprus to comply with the European Court of Human rights decisions, she added.

The ministry must also keep the EU bodies in the loop over the progress on the vote of the bill into law, the chairwoman highlighted.

According to the justice ministry representative, the Republic had previously been found guilty over the fact that government officials worked on the prison board. Currently, the board is independent but its recommendation is not binding.

An official from the ombudswoman’s office who also attended also objected to the prison board, saying there was an overlap of responsibilities.

Acting director of the central prison Ioannis Kapnoullas said that while it was a problem “it is not on its own a complete violation of human rights.” Measures have been put in place to tackle the issue which will reap results in the next few months, he added.

Tsiridou said the bill’s revision was being promoted so it falls in line with modern concepts over prisoner sentencing and internationally prevailing principles on the treatment of prisoners.

“The (bills) also contribute to achieving a balance between the need for security, order and discipline and the conditions of detention and operation of prisons, as well as the obligation we have as the Republic of Cyprus to treat them in a human-centred manner.”

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