On Tuesday, 15 September, a delegation from KISA visited the Detention Center of Undocumented Migrants in Menoyia and talked with detainees, 42 of whom have been on hunger strike since 9 September. Beyond the hunger strikers’ basic demand to be set free, at this point they see an urgent need to begin direct communication with the Ministry of Interior or the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD) in order to facilitate their claims. It should be noted that according to the strikers, they have not been visited by any Interior Ministry official despite reaching their eigth day of hunger strike.
The findings of KISA’s delegation to Menoyia confirms the conclusion that the policy being followed by CRMD goes against the spirit of the European Union’s Return Directive (2008/115/EC) and the applicable national legislation. The spirit of the Directive implies that detention must be considered as a measure of last resort which should be applied only in the absence of any alternative measure, and provided the state is ready to promptly implement measures for the deportation of the individual for whom the decree is issued. Notwithstanding the above, the following are still being detained illegally in Menoyia:
- asylum seekers;
- persons whose cases are still pending before the Supreme Court;
- persons whose case files for asylum were closed without the substance of their case for international protection being examined;
- persons who do not have travel documents and therefore cannot be deported;
- persons detained following conviction for non-serious offences and who have served their sentences;
- EU citizens
- persons who are family members of Cypriot or European citizens.
- parents of minors, whose detention and even deportation results in the rights of their children being violated.
Regarding conditions in the Detention Center, the detainees expressed complaints about the quantity and quality of the food that is being provided to them. Furthemore, they expressed complaints about the response they receive regarding medical issues. More specifically, detainees complain of the fact that when they are taken to hospital for examinations, the doctors only inform the guards of their diagnosis while no relevant information is given to the detainees themselves regarding the state of their health.
Following on from these observations, KISA – Action for Equality, Support and Antiracism requests:
- That the Minister of Interior or the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry visit the hunger strikers in Menoyia. If this is not feasible, a representative of the Minister should be appointed to carry out the visit.
- That the Minister of Interior calls a meeting of the relevant stakeholders, including NGOs, to discuss the scope for improvement in the way the Return Directive in being implemented. The aim is that the policy to be followed should comply fully with the spirit of the Directive, thus avoiding the detention of persons for whom there is no immediate prospect of deportaion, and at the same time to reduce the thoughtless and illegal detention of persons that is occurring today.
- The immediate release of all asylum seekers detained in contravention of the rules in the Detention Center in Menoyia, as well as the release of detainees who are family members of Cypriot or European citizens.
- The immediate release of all detainees who have families in Cyprus, of persons who have been in the country for a period exceeding five years as well as of the detainees for whom there is no prospect of their immediate deportation from the Republic.
- The immediate release of persons who are parents of minors, whose detention results in the rights of their children being violated.