On behalf of the Police, the Memorandum was signed by the chief of the force, Mr Zacharias Chrysostomou. Among other points raised, Mr Chrysostomou referred to the importance of signing the Memorandum, the Police’s focus on protecting human rights, as well as to the pursued objective of cooperation between the Police and NGOs. It is worth mentioning the Chief’s statement regarding his realisation that there was a hostile attitude towards KISA on the part of the Police[iii] when he took over his post in 2014. Furthermore, the chief of Police referred to the improvement in the relationship between KISA and the police in recent years, beginning with a meeting between representatives from the organisation with himself in March 2015.[iv]
On KISA’s part, the Memorandum was signed by the chairwoman of the Steering Committee, Mrs Anthoula Papadopoulou, who in a brief statement[v] recognised and welcomed the different attitude taken by the current leadership of the Police towards NGOs and described the signing of the Memorandum as a concrete sample of cooperation between NGOs and the Police. Also, the chairwoman of the KISA Steering Committee noted that “the mutual recognition of the role and place of NGOs and the reciprocal respect between the two parties form a precondition of the cooperation in question.”
KISA recognises the importance of today and welcomes the aforementioned positive developments. At the same time, we believe that the signing of the Memorandum must form the starting point for an in-depth discussion that will lead to the signing of further individual memorandums for issues that, among others, touch on the compelling need for:
- Improvement of the way that migrants are handled by the Police.
- Combatting rings exploiting migrants and refugees.
- Full access of migrants and refugees being detained at the detention facility in Menoyia and elsewhere to their rights as well as uninterrupted access of NGOs to these individuals.
- Combatting certain practices employed by the Police, like the racist targeting of migrants and refugees as well as the use of violence against them, which, in some cases in the past, has driven the victims to the hospital or even to death.
- Improvement of the system of investigation of reports of abuse of migrants in order to ensure that such phenomena are properly and effectively documented and police officers involved will be subject to the consequences of their actions
[iv] See the relevant press release: http://kisa.org.cy/meeting-of-kisa-with-chief-of-police/