The House human rights committee said on Monday expressed concerns over the government’s delays in creating a juvenile detainee centre.

MPs were also worried over the way preparation and implementation of support and reform programmes are progressing.

Similar concerns were also shared by mental health professionals, the children’s rights commissioner and the legal service, who had all been invited to discuss the progress of creating the juvenile detention facilities, three years after the law for their creation was passed.

The children’s rights commissioner, Despo Michaelidou, also presented the committee with a memo she had written regarding a minor (under 18) and two adults (under 21) being held in the central prisons.

She had requested to be informed about the support programmes being implemented for them, and she told the committee that the answers received were unsatisfactory.

The commissioner decided that she will be visiting the central prisons to be informed more specifically about the detention of minors.

The House committee has already planned a visit to the prisons for January 15, 2024. The head of the committee, Irene Charalambides stated after the meeting that the MPs will visit and request a special meeting with the minors.

As Aristos Tsiartas, head of the department of human rights, anti-criminal and penal policy at the justice ministry, explained during the meeting, there is an area within the prisons which operates primarily for young people aged 18-21. Temporarily, this space, as he said, can be configured appropriately for the detention of minors, i.e. people aged 16-18, if the need arises.

The legislation provides that the place of detention of minors must be located outside the prisons, so that there is no intercourse with adult prisoners, but until the construction of this place, which according to Tsiartas will be either in Nicosia, or in Larnaca, minors on whom the court imposes custodial sentences, are taken to the area set up within the prisons.

The children’s rights commissioner agreed with this policy but said that it should not cause complacency and further delays in creating a special area provided by the law.