Prison and detention center conditions did not meet international standards in a number of areas, and prison overcrowding was a particular problem. Insufficient prison infrastructure, guards, and other staff were also problems.
Physical Conditions: The area’s prison, located in the northern part of Nicosia, has a stated capacity of 294. As of October, it held 386 prisoners and pretrial detainees. Approximately 35 percent of the prison population consisted of persons awaiting trial. As of October, the prison system held 22 female prisoners, of which nine were pretrial detainees, and one juvenile. The prison did not separate adults and juveniles, and there were no detention or correction centers for children. Due to lack of space, detainees and prisoners were kept in the same cells.
In a March interview with the Havadis newspaper, prison director Metin Bilmem reported prison policy did not allow staff to separate the seven 14- to 17-year-old children and the twenty 19- to 20-year-old teenagers at the prison from other inmates. The article reported that the absence of a rehabilitation center at the prison and the lack of separation between juveniles and more serious offenders were helping turn younger inmates into “crime machines.” The press also reported young drug users returned to prison, but as drug dealers, illustrating a claim that incarceration of young offenders with older, more serious criminals, negatively affected them once they were released.
As of August, there were no reports of deaths in the prison or detention centers during the year.
An NGO representative stated that prison facilities lacked health and other services and inmates had limited access to washing water and hot water. Human rights advocates reported the prison had an inadequate level of health care and a lack of medical supplies; no full-time doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist; and an insufficient number of social workers. Human rights activists also reported major problems in security, including a lack of measures to reduce violence between inmates and detainees and overcrowded cells. Authorities reported a doctor visited the prison twice a week and remained on call for any emergencies. Authorities also reported potable water was provided to inmates and detainees. In September a local newspaper reported inmates were under serious risk of contracting contagious diseases at the Central Prison, including HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
In February the Guards Association complained to Kibris about poor working conditions at the Central Prison. According to Kibris, the association asserted that the infrastructure of the prison had deteriorated, and there was a need for a new building. The association also noted that criminals who had committed minor crimes were placed near those convicted of serious crimes. It asserted conditions were such that the prison could no longer carry out its duties to protect, monitor, educate, and rehabilitate inmates and help them reenter the community.
In an April letter to Halkinsesi, inmates at the Central Prison announced they had started a hunger strike to protest poor prison conditions. According to the letter, inmates reported the prison was overcrowded, with more than 400 inmates housed in a facility that had a capacity of 180. Inmates also reported there were 45 persons in one cell that had capacity for only 20 and had just one shower. The inmates demanded the return of the general “amnesty law” and criticized the prison administration for not keeping its promises regarding probation. The inmates asserted that for the past 25 years there had not been any amnesties at the Central Prison.
Administration: Recordkeeping on inmates was inadequate. Community service was not available as an alternative to prison confinement for nonviolent offenders, although there were other alternatives, including warnings, conditional and unconditional release, bail, and psychological and social counseling. The scope of the “ombudsman’s” duties does not include advocating for reduced or alternative sentences, addressing the status of juvenile prisoners, or improving detention or bail conditions.
Independent Monitoring: Authorities permitted prison monitoring.