On the 20th of August, the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Equal Opportunities between Men and Women had a meeting on the issue of “Application to enter Cyprus and submit an asylum claim for the family of the Syrian woman Kawther Abdalaziz”. The meeting was attended by KISA and other NGOS, as well as competent government services and independent authorities and bodies.
The Committee proceeded to the meeting with KISA’s participation despite the fact that the Minister of Interior and services/departments of his ministry refused to attend because, according to his letter to the Committee, invited to the meeting was KISA, which was “illegal” as it had been deregistered from the Register of Associations. The Committee unanimously considered the Minister’s act as “unacceptable intervention in its work”. It also demonstrates beyond any doubt whatsoever that KISA’s deregistration was planned right from the beginning by the Minister of Interior, as an attempt to silence the organisation that for 23 years has been fighting consistently for equality and supporting migrants and refugees.
Regarding its deregistration, KISA would like to inform society about the following:
- Admittedly with some delay, and more specifically immediately after its General Assembly in January 2021, KISA complied with all its legal obligations by submitting its audited accounts and new amended statutes as well as other information required by the law. However, these were not accepted by the Ministry of Interior.
- Despite its deregistration from the Register of Associations, KISA has not been dissolved in that the dissolution process can only be effected by an order of the District Court after an application by the District Officer, in his capacity as Registrar of Associations. The Ministry of Interior has for obvious reasons not even initiated this procedure or at least we have not been informed whether it has started, which keeps the organisation in a state of uncertainty.
- The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe[i] as well as 5 Special Rapporteurs of the UN[ii], have sent letters to the government, in which they consider KISA’s deregistration from the Register of Associations to be a violation of human rights and they call on the ministry to reinstate KISA’s status. In addition, 39 European organisations and networks[iii], including Amnesty International[iv], denounce KISA’s deregistration, which they consider as part of a systematic attempt of harassment and penalisation of the organisation’s action.
- KISA is in a judicial process of challenging its deregistration form the Register of Associations; currently, an Appeal is pending at the Supreme Court.
- In violation of the Law on Associations regarding the dissolution process of associations, in February 2021 KISA’s bank accounts were frozen, on the basis of an order by the Minister of Interior to the banks. Among others, the freezing of our bank accounts violates the labour rights of KISA’s staff since the organisation is unable to make any transactions, including payment of salaries.
- As a transitional stage and until its legal status of association is reinstated, and mainly for enabling it to participate in EU-funded projects, KISA has been registered as a Non-Profit Company in the Register of Companies. It is noted that many civil society organisations and well-known NGOs are also registered as Non-Profit Companies, as for example the Cyprus Refugee Council, which had also been invited and participated in the meeting.
It is clear that KISA continues to maintain its legal status according to current legislation for NGOs and remains active for the realisation of its aims and objectives. This new hostile action of the Minister of Interior amounts to nothing less than undisguised blackmail of the House of Representatives with the aim of restricting freedom of expression, so as not to place before Parliament KISA’s very serious denouncements for inhuman and humiliating treatment of the pregnant refugee woman and the illegal pushbacks to Lebanon and Syria. Unfortunately, the Minister of Interior continues smearing and slandering KISA and its members by instrumentalising its illegal deregistration by himself.