After receiving a series of complaints, KISA has established that there has been an outbreak of police brutality against detainees in almost all towns in Cyprus. In particular, the complaints that have reached us refer to police violence against detainees occurring at the detention centers of Larnaca, Nicosia, and Paphos.
From contacts we have had with family members and detainees who had been victims of this brutal police violence, it seems that the incidents of attacks tended to be in retaliation to the detainees’ protests against their living conditions while in detention and the state’s attempts to deport them. KISA believes that none of the detainees’ protests or actions were in any way aiming to harm other individuals, nor did they require such a disproportionate and violent punishment.
At this point we need to stress that the abuse against detainees was not confined to physical abuse. Members of the police had also verbally abused detainees through the use of insulting and degrading language aimed at particular individuals and their countries of origin, while at the same time humiliating their religious symbols and beliefs.
In addition, when the physical and verbal abuse ceased, the police took a number of restrictive and punitive measures that aimed to further demoralise the detainees. In particular, the police confiscated the detainees’ personal phones thus preventing them to communicate with anyone outside detention, refused to allow their families to visit them, increased the daily hours of cell-confinement, and in some cases detainees were moved to other towns so as to make it even more difficult for them to have contact with their families and the outside world.
Finally, as we were informed, the detainees who could not be deported, such as people from Iran and Syria and stateless persons of Kurdish origin, encountered severe blackmail and psychological warfare in order to agree to “voluntary repatriation”. Especially in relation to Syrians, KISA considers particularly sad the fact that the Republic of Cyprus not only has it not taken a firm and clear position in relation to the brutality of the Syrian regime against the mass rising of the Syrian people, but it continues even today to deport people back to Syria.
KISA condemns all the incidents that have taken place in the detention centres around Cyprus, and urges the authorities to take all appropriate steps to ensure that the rights of all detainees are fully respected.