On 10/06/2021, the Administrative Court rejected KISA’s recourse against the decision of the General Registrar to deregister KISA from the Register of Associations. In effect, with this decision, in contrast with independent officials and institutions of the UN and the Council of Europe, the AC considers that the Ministry of Interior legally deregistered an NGO active in the fields of migration and human rights for 23 years, simply because it did not inform the Registrar of Associations on time that its constitution was compatible with the Associations and Institutions Law (104(I)/2017).
A constitution that was, right from the beginning of KISA’s establishment in 1998, compatible with the most important provisions of the Law on Associations and Institutions of 2017, including those regarding adherence to the principles of democracy and fundamental rights and freedoms. In contrast, provisions of the constitution of many other associations, mainly in the area of sports, in blatant violation of the provisions of article 4. (1) of the Law, define that their objective is “the continuous dedication of the members to the Greek-Christian ideals of our race” or “the Greek edification of its members and the Greek youth of the Island in general”. Regarding these associations, the Minister of Interior and the Registrar of Associations did not see and therefore did not establish that these constitutional provisions “aim at or tend to undermine … Democracy, democratic institutions, … fundamental rights and freedoms”. These Associations, unlike KISA, were never subjected to any sanctions, never mind deregistration, for not complying with the legislation.
in the decision of the AD there are serious omissions and failure to examine or justify critical aspects of the violations of the Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other European and international human rights legal instruments regarding the human rights of association and assembly but also of the freedom of expression. In addition, the AC omitted to engage with the totally unnecessary and disproportionately severe sanction imposed on KISA in relation to the stated objective.
Contrary to the decision of the AC, and emphasizing the violations of the above European and international conventions and other legal instruments, European agencies and bodies, such as the European Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and five OHCHR Special Rapporteurs of the UN, who with a letter and joint communication to the Minister of Interior and the Cyprus government, respectively, express their concerns about the deteriorating operational environment for NGOs in Cyprus as and about the deregistration of KISA and many other NGOs from the Register of Associations. They also consider deregistration as an extreme and disproportionate measure, which should «never be used to address minor infractions».
With this extremely disappointing decision, the AC opens the door to the Ministry of Interior to proceed to concluding the dissolution of KISA, a process that had already started unlawfully without the required by law court decision when, in February 2021, the Minister of Interior issued an order to the banks to freeze KISA’s accounts, as well as of other deregistered associations, with all the consequences this entails. Repeating the practices of discriminatory treatment and dealing with the “good” and the “bad” NGOS, the former that “do a wonderful job … and we want them on the side of the state» , and the latter that «maximise issues and target the state services» , with a new order the Minister called on the banks to de-freeze the accounts of some associations, mainly in the sports sector.
Declaring once again its determination to continue its work and its adherence to its mission and objectives for equality and diversity, the struggle against discrimination and racism, the safeguarding and promotion of human rights and the rule of law for all people, KISA has already filed an appeal before the Supreme Court and will submit a request for an accelerated procedure,
Under these circumstances and in order to exclude any possibility of suspending KISA’s operation and action, we have proceeded to registering the organisation under the legal personality of Non-Profit Company, with exactly the same name and same objectives. Despite the fact that this legal status, under which many other NGOs have chosen to operate, is not the ideal solution for us, nevertheless does provide the only option for KISA to continue its work and action until the reinstatement of its registration in the Register of Associations.
KISA calls on civil society organisations, organised or other groups and entities, activists and society at large to stand with us and declare their support and solidarity not only with KISA but also against the toxic anti-migrant narrative, against racism and nationalism, against the corruption and graft of the Anastasiades government, against the legitimisation and normalisation of the Golden Dawn of Cyprus and the devastating plunge to the extreme right and fascism, for democracy and the rule of law. In order to reinforce and strengthen the already declared support and solidarity of many European and international networks and NGOs.
And finally, KISA calls on the House of Representatives to proceed immediately to the amendment of the legislation in order to enable the deregistered NGOs to have their legality reinstated after documenting their compliance with the legislation provisions. This amendment will also revoke the unequal and special treatment of some associations, as in the case of the Cyprus Olympic Committee and the Cyprus Paralympic Committee, with the Amendment of the Cyprus Sports Association Law (15(I)/2021). Although both Committees had been deregistered, the governing party restored the legality of exclusively these two associations through a law of doubtful legality and the urgency procedure, without even asking them to present information for their compliance with the law.