Cyprus Mail

Widespread impunity in the north – US human rights report

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The 2023 US country report on human rights in Cyprus raised serious concerns over media freedom and life-threatening conditions in prison in the north.

Published on Tuesday, it highlighted that ‘authorities’ in the north took “limited credible steps to identify and punish officials who may have committed human rights abuses.

“There was evidence, however, of widespread impunity.”

Serious ‘government’ corruption and human trafficking as well as violence against minority groups were highlighted amid by the report. Similarly to the Republic, it specified no significant changes in the human rights situation.

“Observers generally perceived corruption, cronyism and lack of transparency to be serious problems in the ‘legislative’ and ‘executive’ branches.”

The report detailed a survey citing corruption as the biggest problem within the Turkish Cypriot community and noting complaints of unfairness, partisanship, corruption, and bribery.

The report also outlined that Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar filed a libel lawsuit against journalist Serhat Incirli for allegedly insulting Tatar in 2022 in articles in Yeniduzen.

Additionally, Turkish Cypriot journalist Ali Kismir is also facing 10 years in prison for “humiliating the Turkish military” the report said.

“In the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, it was a criminal offence to insult the Turkish Cypriot ‘government’ and ‘officials,’ as well as the Turkish government and its officials.”

On the treatment of migrants, the report flagged “refoulement of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they would face torture or persecution.”

NGOs reported refugees faced racism, exploitation, and impediments to achieving self-sufficiency and integration within society. According to an NGO, there were long detention periods for asylum seekers pending deportation or prosecution.

Syrians arriving irregularly were detained an average of 31 days prior to deportation. Syrians smuggled into the north were, however, detained as long as six months in crude jails below ‘police’ stations.

The report said foreign domestic workers and international students faced discrimination and, at times, violence.

There was discrimination against Maronites, who maintained possession of property in the north but were unable to bequeath the property to heirs residing in the ROC.

There were also reports of discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons in employment, housing, and access to education or health care. Community members noted an overwhelming majority of LGBTQI+ persons concealed their sexual orientation or gender identity to avoid potential discrimination.

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