A couple from Sri Lanka have been living and working in Cyprus continuously since 1993. The family has two children. Their eldest daughter was 6 years old when they first came and the youngest was born in Cyprus in 2002. Both have attended schools here with excellent academic performance. The eldest daughter is currently in the UK, where she is studying law, and the youngest, who has never visited Sri Lanka, speaks, writes and reads Greek as her mother tongue.
In 2002, the wife and mother of the two children applied for Cypriot citizenship, having fulfilled all legal requirements to be naturalized as a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus. The application was rejected in 2004 and she appealed to the Supreme Court, which in its judgment of 31.3.2004 annulled the decision of the administration. In 2007, the CRMD (Civil Registry and Migration Department) reviewed the application for naturalization but rejected it again. A new appeal was filed against this new decision. In 2010, the Court annulled as yet again the decision of CRMD.
In 2004, the husband and father of the two children also applied for Cypriot citizenship, which was rejected in 2007. This decision was also disputed before the Supreme Court, which in its judgment of 23.2.2010 annulled the decision of the CRMD. Then, the Republic of Cyprus also appealed to the Supreme Court and the trial of the case is still pending.
In the meantime, the competent department failed to proceed as required regarding the review of their request for naturalization in the light of the decisions of the Supreme Court. On 31.7.2013, the family’s lawyer filed a new appeal against the refusal of the CRMD to review the application for naturalization in accordance with the Supreme Court decision.
The last residence permit granted to the family by the CRMD expired on 30.6.2009. A request for the renewal of their residence permit, submitted by the family’s lawyer on 13.5.2009, before the expiration of the last residence permit, remains unanswered to date. In addition, requests for the renewal of the residence permit of the family submitted by KISA in 2010 also remain unanswered until today.
On 20.07.2013 the husband was arrested and detained for alleged illegal residence in Cyprus. Since then, he was initially detained in the detention centρe of the Limassol Police Station and subsequently to the detention centre in Mennogeia in order to be deported.
It has to be noted that on 29.8.2011 the eldest daughter filed a complaint on behalf of the family against the above position of the CRMD to the Ombudsman, who published a report on 31.7.2013, which calls for the immediate release of the husband and father of the two children, as well as the regulation of the residence permit of the family until the decision with regard to naturalization.
KISA is of the opinion that the treatment of this family is indicative of the political discrimination regarding granting Cypriot citizenship to eligible migrants, even after 20 years of residence in the country. This policy also affects migrants’ ability and possibility to have access to European citizenship, after 20 years of residence in the EU, while in other Member States persons under similar conditions can become EU citizens without particular difficulties.
KISA considers the systematic non-compliance of the Ministry of Interior and the CRMD with the Supreme Court decisions, as well as the failure to comply with the recommendations of the Ombudsman, as another indication of misuse and abuse of power by the administration.
Furthermore, KISA is of the opinion that the systematic failure to comply with the decisions of the Supreme Court and the recent condemnation by the European Court of Human Rights in the Case MA vs Cyprus, cast doubts on whether the rule of law is prevailing on issues of immigration and asylum in Cyprus.
KISA condemns the arrest and detention of this person and calls for the intervention of the competent Minister for the immediate release of the husband and father of the two children, the regulation of the residence status of the family according to the Ombudsman’s report and the review of the decision to reject their applications for naturalization, according to the three decisions of the Supreme Court.