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The updated Country Report on Cyprus provides a detailed analysis of the recent transposition of the recast Asylum Procedures and Reception Conditions Directives, completed in October 2016. The reform has led to substantial amendments to the Refugee Law and Legal Aid Law.
The Cypriot Administrative Court was established in July 2015 and as of January 2016 has taken over from the Supreme Court as the first instance judicial review authority for asylum decisions. In order to ensure that asylum seekers in Cyprus have a right to an effective remedy against a negative decision before a judicial body on both facts and law in accordance with Article 46 of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive, the relevant authorities have taken steps to modify the procedure as follows: abolish the Refugee Reviewing Authority (RRA), which is a second level first-instance decision-making authority that examines appeals on both facts and law, but is not a judicial body, and instead provide a judicial review on both facts and law before the recently established Administrative Court. In practice, however, the RRA has yet to be abolished and continues to review asylum decisions out of a backlog of approximately 650 cases.
Regarding the representation of unaccompanied children, the recent amendment to the law maintains that the Director of Social Welfare Services acts as representative of unaccompanied children in the asylum procedures but for judicial proceedings the Commissioner for Children’s Rights is responsible to ensure representation.
The report also provides up-to-date information on detention policy and conditions in Cyprus. The latter are reported to have improved in the Menogia detention centre over the past two years, although lack of activities and length of detention remain issues of concern.