The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Ill-treatment or Punishment(CPT) performed on Saturday, 27/9 a scheduled visit to the police cells in Mennogeia. The authorities of the Cypriot Republic, knowing some migrants are being held there illegally and in violation of international and European treaties regarding human rights, but also of European and national legislation, decided to make five of them “disappear” in order to avoid getting into trouble with the CPT. The case involves three migrants (one from Iran, one from Lebanon, and one from Afghanistan) who have been in custody in the long term (the first two have been detained for over one year, and the third for almost two) without there being a possibility of deporting them; an unaccompanied minor from Cameroon, and an asylum seek whose case is still open with the Refugee Reviewing Authority.
The morning prior to the arrival of the CPT the police of the holding facility, thinking they would fool the CPT, transferred the aforementioned individuals outside the facility. Two of them were forcefully transported to the hospital for medical examinations, with the police reporting that they were suffering from health issues, like chest pains, while they themselves protested against the transport, since they neither suffer from deteriorating health nor complained of any pains or irritation. One of them was transferred to the Immigration Department in Larnaca, under the pretext of an interview, waiting for hours for the “interview” to take place, the justification for which was never provided. The asylum seeker, whose case is still open, was taken to the offices of the Refugee Reviewing Authority also for an interview, once again with no explanation. The unaccompanied minor’s location remains unknown.
The next day, Saturday, 28/9 the CPT performed a surprise visit to the Mennogeia facility, detecting the four detainees, who then complained about the above. It is to be noted that the police put handcuffs on these individuals from the morning they were transported out of the cells till the evening they were returned.
A particular cause for distress is the role of the implicated authorities, since they appear to have cooperated with the police to achieve its ends. The doctors of the hospital proceeded with a forceful examination of the detainees transferred there, in spite of their protests. The Immigration Department and the Refugee Reviewing Authority conducted interviews with the other two detainees that seem to not have served any other purpose, since, as the individuals reported, the “interviews” conducted consisted of random questions.
KISA condemns the attempts of the police to deceive the CPT, and also the collusion of the implicated state authorities, who seem to have collaborated (not for the first time), in breach of their duties, with the police for their purposes. We consider it unacceptable for a state to violate basic human rights and try to fool both human rights organisations and society as a whole.
Finally, KISA urges the Ministry of Justice and Public Order to take a position in relation to the events and to publicly declare whether the above were based on a political decision of the Ministry or they were actions decided by the police administration of the detention centre. KISA also calls the Ministry to conduct relevant investigations and to attribute responsibilities.
KISA Steering Committee