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Committee against Torture's dialogue with Cyprus Centers on detention conditions and fundamental legal safeguards

Committee against Torture

18 November 2019

The Committee against Torture this morning concluded its consideration of the fifth periodic report of Cyprus on measures taken to implement the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  Committee Experts raised concerns about detention conditions and fundamental legal safeguards, in particular concerning prison overcrowding and medical examinations.  They also requested information about investigations of cases of persons reported missing.

Committee Experts pointed out that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture had reported a number of credible allegations of ill-treatment of detainees, including slaps, punches and kicks to the head and other parts of the body, tight handcuffing, as well as an allegation of sexual abuse of a woman.  In general, the Committee was informed that fundamental legal safeguards were not well implemented in practice.  Underlining that forensic medical examinations should be carried out without the presence of police officers, they asked how often detainees were handcuffed during this procedure.  The overcrowding rate stood at 140 per cent in the State party according to the information the Committee had received.  What measures had been taken to address the situation? 

Members of the Committee said there seemed to be some stagnation on the State’s part when it came to the investigation of cases of persons reported missing as a result of the intercommunal fighting that occurred in 1963 and 1964 and of the events of July 1974 and afterwards.  Experts underlined the positive attitude with which the Government implemented the recommendations of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Tortureand the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.  They also commended the State party for ensuring that the use of exceptions to the general right to call a lawyer, family member or other person of choice immediately after arrest was put on record.

Louiza Christodoulidou Zannetou, Law Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, said that at this stage, the most serious obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by the people of Cyprus was the continuing Turkish illegal occupation of about a third of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus since 1974.  Regrettably, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus was not in a position to ensure the respect of human rights treaties, nor to apply its human rights policies and laws in the areas not under its effective control.  Prison reforms in the past five years had focused on the human-centred philosophy of rehabilitating and reintegrating inmates.  Cypriot prisons had undergone major reforms, contributing to the prevention of suicides, self-harm, ill treatment, and inter-prisoner violence, as well as to the provision of therapeutic programmes to drug addicts.

Delegates explained that in case of allegations of ill-treatment, the concerned inmate was transferred immediately to the Nicosia General Hospital for medical examination and psychological evaluation according to the Istanbul Protocol provisions.  Further, a criminal investigation was initiated by the police authorities.  For the protection of victims of alleged ill-treatment, legal safeguards were applied without any delay.  In case of allegations of ill-treatment at the hand of the police, documents, including photos and medical reports, were submitted to the Office of the Attorney-General, which conducted an investigation into the matter.  There had been 15 investigations against police officers for ill-treatment, two of which had resulted in convictions.  The Government used conditional releases and electronic monitoring to address prison overcrowding.  A plan had been made for the enlargement, construction and renovation of prison facilities.  Efforts had been made to reduce overcrowding during the pretrial phase; expand the use of electronic monitoring; and strengthen the institution of community work.

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Christodoulidou Zannetou thanked Committee members.  The Government was disappointed that non-governmental organizations had failed to submit shadow reports.  This might, however, be a reflection of the progress achieved in the country.  The Government would do its utmost to further improve Cyprus’ work in promoting and protecting human rights.

Jens Modvig, Committee Chairperson, recalled that the Committee would request that the State party submit a report on the implementation of three urgent recommendations.  He thanked the delegation.

The delegation of Cyprus was comprised of representatives of the Law Commission, the Police of Cyprus, the Cyprus Prison Department, the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, the Ministry of Interior, and the Permanent Mission of Cyprus to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 19 November at 10 a.m. to begin its consideration of the fifth periodic report of Portugal (CAT/C/PRT/7).

Report

The Committee has before it the fifth periodic report of Cyprus (CAT/C/CYP/5).

Presentation of the Report

LOUIZA CHRISTODOULIDOU ZANNETOU, Law Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, said Cyprus had achieved significant goals in the fight against torture and any other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  However, at this stage, the most serious obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by the people of Cyprus was the continuing Turkish illegal occupation of about a third of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus since 1974.  Regrettably, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus was not in a position to ensure the respect of human rights treaties, nor to apply its human rights policies and laws in the areas not under its effective control.  Therefore, the information and data presented in the fifth periodic report and during these proceedings, concerned only the areas under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

Serious efforts were being undertaken so that detention centres fully met European and international standards.  The amended Rights of Persons who are Arrested and Detained Law had been harmonized with European Union Directives and all detained persons were informed of all their rights, including through a document on the “Rights of Detained Persons” that was available in 18 languages.

Cyprus had made considerable progress by strengthening the national legal framework on trafficking in human beings.  The use of sexual services was now criminalized: any person who asked for or received or used services of a victim of sexual exploitation was guilty of this offence.

Prison reforms in the past five years had focused on the human-centred philosophy of rehabilitating and reintegrating inmates.  Several international organizations, including the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture, had commended Cyprus for implementing this humane approach and for normalizing inmates’ living conditions.  Prison schools followed the country’s general education curriculum.  All inmates had access to education free of charge, as any other person, up to the tertiary level, including educational and vocational training programmes.  Seventy-five per cent of Cyprus’ inmates attended prison school.  According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, prisons in Cyprus had undergone major reforms, contributing to the prevention of suicide, self-harm, ill treatment, and inter-prisoner violence, as well as to the provision of therapeutic programmes to drug addicts.

Turning to migration, Ms. Christodoulidou Zannetou said alternative measures to detention had been implemented, particularly when persons did not have serious prospects of return, such as persons without travel documents and those who originated from countries without a consular presence in Cyprus.  These individuals were required to declare an address and present themselves at their nearest police station at frequent intervals.  Cyprus strictly prohibited the detention of migrant children.  Regardless of a parent’s migratory status, children were entitled to their fundamental rights to health, education and social care.  Unaccompanied children or families with children were not held in detention.

Cyprus was determined to continue its efforts to promote and further improve measures for combatting torture and all forms of ill-treatment.  The Cypriot Government was committed to maintaining and securing the necessary resources for the effective operation of the independent control mechanisms relating to detention and prisons, and continuing its work on anti-trafficking, asylum and migration policies for the further advancement of human rights in general, and the elimination of torture in particular.

Questions by the Committee Experts

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson and Co-Rapporteur for Cyprus, starting with the criminalization of torture that was reflected in sections 3 and 5 of Law No. 235/9, said the law was not fully enforced, and thus, did not effectively criminalize torture.  He asked the delegation to provide data on the number of torture or ill-treatment cases that had been brought to courts since the last report.  What measures were in place to ensure that prosecutors were bringing appropriate charges under Law No. 235/90 rather than less serious crimes?

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment had reported a number of credible allegations of physical ill-treatment of detained persons, including juveniles, by police officers.  These consisted primarily of slaps, punches and kicks to the head and other parts of the body, tight handcuffing, as well as an allegation of sexual abuse of a woman.  What measures had the Government taken to combat the generalized problem of police abuse? 

The Committee had been informed that in general fundamental legal safeguards were not well implemented in practice.  The Co-Rapporteur requested data on cases of persons being punished for abuse of the right to medical examination.

Further on the issue of medical examination upon admission to places of detention, he asked how quickly after the admission it was provided on average.  Underlining that forensic medical examinations should be carried out without the presence of police officers, who should never be involved in the taking of photographs of injuries, he further asked how often detainees were handcuffed during the medical examination, and if police officers were ever involved in taking photographs of injuries.

The Co-Rapporteur commended the State party for ensuring that the use of exceptions to the general right to call a lawyer, family member or other person of choice immediately after arrest was put on record.

Could the delegation inform the Committee of the percentage of detainees that applied for legal aid?

Addressing the need to reduce police custody remand time, he requested that the delegation describe conditions of detention in cells used for police custody, those of the Limmasol police station in particular, with respect to windows and daylight, access to open air, common rooms, and other activities like work or leisure activities.

It would be beneficial if the State party recorded the granting of all fundamental legal safeguards and thus allowed for data-based monitoring of this compliance.

In the field of crime, the Committee understood that the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Crime and Criminal Matters had managed to establish a promising collaboration between Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot police forces.  This was a potentially very important collaboration.  In which ways and areas did the Government see potential for further such collaboration?

The Co-Rapporteur asked about plans regarding the collection and use of data to assess measures on sexual and gender-based violence and ensure the Cypriot national human rights institution was fully in compliance with the Paris Principles and could obtain a corresponding A status?

Cyprus had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture in 2009 and established the national prevention mechanism as a department under the Ombudsman institution.  This seemed to be the problem: while the mechanism previously carried out 10 to 15 visits a year, it currently only undertook three to five visits a year.  He requested information on the activities of the national prevention mechanism and its recommendations, notably as regard migrant detention.

The use of torture was widespread in some of the countries to which Cyprus had returned persons.  How did the Government ensure that it did not return persons at risk of being tortured so as not to breach the principle of non-refoulement?

One issue in connection with asylum procedures, which was always of great interest to the Committee, was the early identification of victims of torture and trafficking among asylum applicants.  While it was commendable to have a focus on vulnerable groups and special reception needs, the procedure described in the State party’s report was not likely to allow for the effective identification of victims of torture. 

The lack of statistics also indicated that the number of torture victims identified using this mechanism - if any - was unknown.  Nevertheless, the Committee was interested in hearing about the Cypriot approach.  Was the vulnerability assessment procedure used consistently for every asylum seeker and migrant entering Cyprus?

The Co-Rapporteur inquired about the number of asylum seekers referred to rehabilitation due to torture.  Could the delegation explain what the specialized nature and content of the rehabilitation offered was?

He requested information on the Government’s policy to detain immigrants and asylum seekers.  Were undocumented migrants - so-called “prohibited migrants” - detained as a matter of routine?  Could the delegation clarify whether application for asylum by a detained undocumented migrant cleared for deportation was considered obstruction?

ABDELWAHAB HANI, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Cyprus, starting with the criminalization of torture, said the training on torture should be specific rather than general.  He requested information on the number of magistrates that had received such training and the related programmes offered to law enforcement officials, notably on the Istanbul Convention.  Some of Government’s training programmes dovetailed with recommendations by Special Procedure mandate holders, which was commendable.  Could the delegation provide examples of clear instructions that had been given to law enforcement and judicial officials on requirements stemming from the Convention?

Mr. Hani inquired about the representation of ethnic minorities in the police force.  He pointed out that the State party said that they were not represented in the Ombudsman’s Office.  Was a greater representation of ethnic minorities considered desirable by the Government?

The Co-Rapporteur commended the State party’s efforts to ensure transparency, as illustrated by it agreeing to the publication of the report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The overcrowding rate stood at 140 per cent in the prisons in the State party according to the information the Committee had received.  Could the delegation confirm this figure?  Noting that the Ombudsman had called it “chronic overcrowding”, what measures had been taken to address the situation?

The absence of visits and limited access to telecommunications had been a cause of complaint among inmates.  Had the Government tackled this problem? 

On life sentences, the Co-Rapporteur asked if they could be reduced.  If so, by whom?  A judicial body?  Was the individual concerned offered a form of rehabilitation support?

It was important that records and registrars used in prisons reflected reality and were reliable.  The existence of a dedicated psychiatric unit for inmates grappling with mental health issues was positive, the Co-Rapporteur remarked, asking for further information on this service.  The two-month delay to access a gynaecologist imposed on detained women was concerning.  What measures were envisaged to improve detention conditions of women, as per the Bangkok Rules?

The places of detention of migrants and the length of detention, notably of migrants who were undocumented, could erode the prevention of torture according to the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture.  Could the delegation provide data on the detention of undocumented migrants?  The responses provided were rather restrictive.  More information on the Government’s approach on this matter would be welcome, as well as information on alternatives to detention.

The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture had raised concerns about the state of toilets, the treatment of minors, and instances of xenophobic violence, among others.  In that regard, what measures had been taken to humanize the staff of the Menoyia Detention Centre and address allegations of use of tear gas against migrant detainees?

The Subcommittee had also pointed to detained minors’ ignorance of their rights, heating problems, and a lack of access to education, the Co-Rapporteur recalled. 

Referring to the Subcommittee’s concerns in that regard, he inquired about the procedure through which forced hospitalizations were imposed.

How did Cyprus investigate cases of abusive use of force?  The Human Rights Committee had received information about violence against inmates, notably collective rapes. 

In the State party’s report, dates were lacking in the tables outlining deaths in custody in the annexes.  It made it difficult for the Committee to analyse trends.

Could the Government provide information on legal guarantees related to disciplinary measures imposed on inmates, including those akin to solitary confinement.

Turning to the complaint procedure, he underlined that statistics submitted reflected a very low rate of complaint presentation.  What was more, very few of these complaints led to conclusions.  Could the delegation provide updated figures for 2018 and 2019, as well as comment on the trends described by the Co-Rapporteur?

Suspensions could be imposed on law-enforcement officers suspected of having engaged in torture or ill-treatment, he noted.  However, the case-by-case investigation procedure generated a risk that concerned officers meddled in the investigations.  Did the Government intend to modify the investigation procedure into torture allegations to improve it and make it more effective and impartial?

There were 33 Cypriots who claimed to have been victims of torture at the hand of British forces and had been able to obtain reparations from the British Government.  Did the Government think that this could lead to reparations for other crimes of the past?  Torture did not only become an offence after the ratification of the Convention.

There seemed to be some stagnation on the State’s part when it came to the investigation of cases of persons reported missing as a result of the intercommunal fighting that occurred in 1963 and 1964 and of the events of July 1974 and afterwards.  Was the State party facing difficulties in engaging with families of the disappeared from both communities?

Citing General Comment number 3 on article 11 of the Convention, which advocated for a holistic approach, the Co-Rapporteur pointed out that the disappearance issue was complex and linked to a variety of issues affecting families, such as inheritance.

He asked if judges had ever overturned evidence extracted through torture.

He drew the delegation’s attention to the allegations of ill-treatment of a Cypriot ship owner of the Turkish minority.  What investigations in this matter had been launched and what had been their outcome?  While the Committee did not deal with Security Council resolutions, this case fell under its remit as it concerned ill-treatment.

Other Committee members raised concerns on a broad array of issues, including the right to reparations; the rights of migrants; domestic workers; human trafficking; and the nexus between forced marriages and human trafficking.

Responses by the Delegation

Delegates said that the issue of persons reported missing was a humanitarian issue and the Government strove to solve every single case.  The Committee of Missing Persons had been created to that end in 1981.  The names of all missing persons were known.  Among the missing persons, there were 502 Turkish Cypriots and 1,493 Greek Cypriots.  The circumstances of the disappearance of 695 Greek Cypriots and about half the Turkish Cypriots had been established.  In the last few years, there had been a dip in the number of remains found, as fewer graves had been discovered.  Some individuals in the occupied parts of Cyprus opposed the excavations by the Committee of Missing Persons and impeded its access to certain locations.  There were no mechanisms to force them to the contrary; the Government relied on their goodwill.  It should be noted that there had been cases where the remains had been deliberately displaced. 

The Attorney General had directed the police to carry out an investigation on this matter.  To that end, various records were used, including those of the Red Cross and the United Nations.  Regrettably, Turkey had not made its archives available.  While it had allowed excavations to be conducted in zones it controlled, the level of cooperation remained low. 

A lot of measures had been taken to alleviate this situation.  Almost all Turkish Cypriots had Cypriot IDs and passports.  Problems arose when the Government was dealing with so-called authorities in the “illegally occupied” territories.

LOUIZA CHRISTODOULIDOU ZANNETOU, Law Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, said that every person who had been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of article 11 of the Constitution had an enforceable right to compensation.

As per the Legal Aid Law, free legal aid was provided for criminal cases, including at the investigation stage, on actions for human rights violations, European arrest warrants, family law cases, cross border dispute cases, and international protection applicants’ asylum.  The only case for which legal aid was subject to the reasonable possibility of winning the case was the international protection and this decision was taken by the competent court of international protection.

Life sentences may be reduced or altered by an appeal to the Supreme Court by the accused.  The Constitution provided that the President of the Republic shall, on the unanimous recommendation of the Attorney-General and the Deputy Attorney-General of the Republic, remit, suspend, or commute any sentence passed by a court in the Republic in all other cases.  Convicts could apply for parole on the twelfth year of imprisonment.

The Government was not in a position to gather or provide to the Committee data on the number of civil actions by victims of torture or inhuman treatment as the State was not always a party to these actions.  The Government could only provide data on cases that were brought against the Government.

On the Office of the Ombudsman, guarantees of independence and impartiality were provided by the legislation.  Τhe Office of the Ombudsperson had its own separate budget, which it managed itself.  Four additional permanent posts had been approved in 2019, further to reforms undertaken based on recommendations with a view to full compliance with the Paris Principles.

Delegates explained that in order to enhance the legal capacity of persons with disabilities, a new law was being drafted to safeguard their legal rights in all aspects of life.  Consultations were currently being held with civil society organizations representing persons with disabilities.

A complaints mechanism for domestic workers was in place and it had reviewed 680 complaints in 2018.  This mechanism had granted 385 releases in that context.

Considerable steps had been made to meet international and regional standards regarding asylum, returns and non-refoulement.  It should be noted that Cyprus had faced an influx of people, namely Syrians, fleeing general violence rather than personal persecution.  Their status was decided on a case by case basis.  There was an automatic suspensive effect against deportation; the refugee law provided for the right to remain in Cyprus until all means of access to remedy had been exhausted.  Return migrants had a right to dignity, and, accordingly, there was constructive cooperation on the matter of returns between relevant governmental bodies, including the monitoring mechanism, the police, and the migration department.

Regarding the identification of victims of torture, delegates said it was performed at the early stages of the asylum application process in order to provide assistance as early as possible.  This was carried out by a medical board set up for this purpose.  In February 2017, a training course had been conducted to better equip health professionals in that regard, in line with the Istanbul Protocol.  It should be noted that alternative measures to detention were provided for in the law, but in the past they had not always proven effective.  The detention of asylum seekers was allowed for various reasons, including to find out about their identity and when required by national security or public order concerns.

Police registrars included various information, such as personal information of the detainee, the length of detention, and descriptions of wounds and injuries at the time of entrance and exit.  Police detention rarely exceeded one month. 

In both the Limassol and Paphos central detention centres, changes had been made to improve detention conditions: windows had been installed, televisions were available, and access to outside grounds was granted to detainees.  Following observations by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, additional changes had been made in other places of detention. 

Medical examination was offered in the Menoyia Detention Centre.  A practitioner and a nurse were present onsite 24 hours per day.  In case of allegations of ill-treatment, the concerned detainee was examined by a doctor within 24 hours.  So far, all such allegations had been found not to be cases of ill-treatment.  In cases of allegations of ill-treatment at the hand of the police, documents, including photos and medical reports, were submitted to the Office of the Attorney-General, which conducted an investigation in the matter.  There had been 15 investigations against police officers for ill-treatment, two of which had resulted in convictions.

Children were not held in detention in Cyprus in relation to irregular entry in the country.    Unaccompanied minors were placed under the care of the Director of the Social Welfare Services, who acted as a guardian of the minors, safeguarding access to all of their rights, and ensuring that everything was done in the best interest of the child.  Unaccompanied minors were placed in foster or residential care.  There were currently six homes for unaccompanied minors.  Four of the homes were operated by the Government (two for boys and two for girls), and two were operated by the non-governmental organization Hope for Children.  These children enjoyed the same rights and had access to these rights on the very same terms as the rest of the children in Cyprus.

The delegate from the Prison Department said that there was consistency in carrying out the medical examination and assessment of all newly admitted inmates.  Upon admission and during imprisonment, all inmates had the right to notify a third party, to access to a lawyer, and to access to a doctor in order to communicate any information related to ill-treatment.  During the period under review, 139 inmates were granted free legal aid.

Concerning prison overcrowding, the existing measures had not alleviated the problem, however, new positive developments that would resolve the problem of overcrowding were anticipated.  The problem of overcrowding in the female prison had been permanently resolved in 2017 with the operation of the new wing for convicted females, and material conditions had improved significantly.  Female inmates were provided with gender-specific health services and were transferred to gynaecologists without delays for appointments, earlier than the rest of the females in the community.

The Prison Department enabled and assisted all prisoners to have regular contact with relatives and friends, at least 10 visits a month, via telephone calls.  There were also skype meetings for non-Cypriots who usually had less visits than Cypriots.  Every year since 2015, around 800 skype calls were conducted, mainly by foreign inmates.  All inmates had additional visits from lawyers, representatives of various religious groups, embassies and consulates. 

Inmates serving life sentences had access to rehabilitation programmes, school programmes, work, sports, activities and events inside prisons, like any other inmate. 

Thanks to a range of measures taken by the Prisons Department to improve conditions for inmates, including the promotion of respect for human dignity and diversity, fair treatment, as well as effective complaints mechanisms, there had been a huge drop in suicidal and violence incidents in prison.  In the reporting period, there were two allegations of rape which were immediately investigated.  Both proved to be false.  There had been no allegations regarding collective rapes in the past five years.  Any death in prison was impartially and transparently investigated in order to clarify the cause of death.  During the period under review, four inmates had died while hospitalized at the Nicosia General Hospital and another four had died in prison.  According to the police investigation and the coroner’s examination, all were due to natural causes. 

In 2018, the Prisons Law was amended in order to safeguard the legal guarantees pertaining to the disciplinary measures imposed on inmates.

The Government used conditional releases and electronic monitoring to address prison overcrowding.  A plan had been made for the enlargement, construction and renovation of prison facilities.  Efforts were made to reduce overcrowding during the pretrial phase; expand the use of electronic monitoring; and strengthen the institution of community work.

In the past five years, the Prisons Department had complied with all of the recommendations of the Office of the Ombudsperson, except those pertaining to overcrowding, as the Department was not equipped to resolve this matter alone.

Follow-Up Questions by the Committee Experts

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson and Co-Rapporteur for Cyprus, requested information on the practice of handcuffing detainees who were undergoing medical examination, as well as the presence of police officers during such examinations.

How many officials had been investigated, prosecuted and sentenced for complicity in trafficking in persons?

Could the State party confirm that the eligibility for refugee status was thoroughly evaluated on a case by case basis?

The Government seemed to not be able to effectively identify torture victims early.

ABDELWAHAB HANI, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Cyprus, starting with the criminalization of torture, underlined the positive attitude with which the Government implemented the recommendations of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Tortureand the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

Was the State party planning on inviting the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances to the country?

The Co-Rapporteur also asked if the Government intended to put everybody on an equal footing with regard to legal aid, including people seeking international protection, and requested information about solitary confinement.

Other Committee Experts asked further questions about civil cases related to torture and ill-treatment, the associated reparation scheme, and the expulsion of undocumented foreign nationals.

Follow-Up Replies by the Delegation

Delegates assured that prosecutions into allegations of ill-treatment took place when enough evidence was gathered.  They recalled that Turkey had effective control over the northern part of the country, which posed a significant challenge with regard to investigating cases of missing persons.  When the Committee would review the situation in Turkey, it could look into this issue, they suggested.

There were 15 alleged police abuse cases involving bodily injuries, for which medical evidence had been deemed necessary.  Medical forensic examiners, who were not part of the police, were responsible for collecting evidence through medical examinations in such contexts.  Police photographers took photographs when so instructed by the medical forensic examiners.  While sharing the concerns expressed by the Committee, delegates said the procedure ensured the admissibility in court of the photographs.  The use of handcuffs was decided on a case by case basis, taking into consideration issues such as the safety of medical personnel and the risk of flight.

On detention conditions, further improvements would be made, the delegation emphasized.

On diversity in the police, delegates remarked that citizenship was a requisite to join the police.  Police records did not contain any data on religious and ethnic backgrounds, except for national minorities, all of which were represented in the police force.  The percentage of female police officers stood at 25 per cent and had been rising since 2000.  It was likely to rise further in the near future.

Solitary confinement was no longer used as a method of punishment.  It had been abolished five years ago.

Concluding Remarks

LOUIZA CHRISTODOULIDOU ZANNETOU, Law Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, thanked Committee members.  The Government was disappointed that non-governmental organizations had failed to submit shadow reports.  This might, however, be a reflection of the progress achieved.  The Government would do its utmost to further improve Cyprus’ work in promoting and protecting human rights.

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, recalled that the Committee would request that the State party submit a report on the implementation of three urgent recommendations.  He thanked the delegation.

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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