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Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The constitution and law prohibit such practices. There were reports, however, that police engaged in abusive tactics and degrading treatment of suspects and detainees. Members of ethnic and racial minorities were more likely to be subjected to such treatment.

In a report published on April 26, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) noted persistent credible allegations of police mistreatment of detainees, including one allegation of sexual abuse of a woman received during the CPT’s 2017 visit. Three juvenile detainees reported officers kicked, punched, and hit them with clubs during questioning at the Limassol Central Police Station. The CPT found that persons detained by police, particularly foreigners, risked physical or psychological mistreatment at the time of apprehension, during questioning, and in the process of deportation.

During the year the ombudsman, who also acts as the country’s national preventive mechanism under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, received limited complaints of mistreatment and discriminatory and degrading behavior, including complaints of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, from inmates in the Cyprus Prisons Department and in detention centers. The ombudsman reported most of the complaints were not substantiated. Overall, the ombudsman noted continued improvement in the treatment of prisoners and detainees in the Cyprus Prisons Department and in detention centers.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison and detention center conditions, including detention centers for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants pending deportation, did not meet international standards.

Physical Conditions: In its April report, the CPT recommended reducing the prison population in Blocks 1, 2, 5 and 8 of the Cyprus Prisons Department, where many cells did not have toilets and prisoners lacked reliable access to toilets at night. The CPT found conditions at the Cyprus Prisons Department admissions/gatehouse room, reportedly used for accommodating prisoners, to be degrading. The Ministry of Justice said the Cyprus Prisons Department only used the admissions/gatehouse room temporarily to accommodate one prisoner who demonstrated aggressive and self-harming behavior.

Prison authorities held juvenile pretrial detainees in cells separate from convicted juveniles, but the two groups shared the same grounds in their daily activities. Authorities reportedly held migrants detained on deportation orders together with detainees charged with criminal offenses in nearly all police stations. Such detentions are limited to a maximum of 48 hours.

The CPT reported a few allegations of physical abuse of detainees by staff at the Mennoyia Detention Center. It also reported several allegations of Cyprus Prisons Department staff physically abusing prisoners and threatening them with reprisals for making complaints.

The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Action for Equality, Support, and Antiracism (KISA) reported police treatment of detainees at Mennoyia Detention Center for undocumented migrants improved significantly compared with last year. The ombudsman also noted a decrease in complaints about treatment of detainees in Mennoyia Detention Center.

The ombudsman reported her officers regularly visited and discussed conditions in the prisons and detention centers with prisoners and inmates. The ombudsman noted a reduction in the number of irregular migrants detained at police stations and compliance with previous recommendations of the ombudsman to improve physical conditions of detention facilities in police stations.

Approximately 40 percent of prisoners in the Cyprus Prisons Department were non-Cypriots convicted for criminal offenses, such as immigration and drug-related offenses, thefts, sexual offenses, and road accidents. The CPT reported allegations of discrimination against foreign prisoners regarding access to education, health care, work, and recreation. Foreign prisoners did not have access to the semiopen and the open prison or the right to apply for parole.

The ombudsman reported some cases of migrants and asylum seekers detained for deportation even though there was no prospect they would be deported. A considerable number of detainees at the Mennoyia Detention Center were awaiting a decision on their request for international protection or for adjudication of their appeals against the rejection of their asylum applications. Unlike in previous years, the ombudsman and NGOs did not encounter cases of detainees deported before final adjudication of their asylum applications. An NGO reported, however, that instead of deporting detainees before final adjudication of their cases, immigration authorities pressured them to sign a voluntary return consent by threatening them with indefinite detention.

The Ministry of Justice reported it runs a substitution program that provides medicine to drug addicts at the Cyprus Prisons Department based on World Health Organization recommendations and under the supervision of the mental health-care services of the Ministry of Health.

Administration: The CPT raised concerns that insufficient resources and personal ties between accused police officers and investigators (most of whom were former police officers) weakened investigations into allegations of police abuse. Detention centers lacked facilities for religious observance, but religious representatives were permitted to visit inmates.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted prison visits by independent human rights observers, and unrestricted and unannounced visits occurred during the year. The CPT visited the Cyprus Prisons Department in February 2017. The Committee on Human Rights and the Committee on Education and Culture of the House of Representatives also visited the prison. KISA visited the Mennoyia Detention Center multiple times during the year.

Improvements: The Cyprus Prisons Department increased its capacity from 528 to 566. Authorities added Block 3 to the female prison and fully renovated block 10A, which will receive its first inmates in 2019. Police renovated detention centers to increase natural light and airflow and added televisions in the five largest detention centers.

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and provides for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court, and the government generally observed these requirements.


Police enforce the law and combat criminal activity. Police report to the Ministry of Justice and Public Order. The president appoints the chief of police.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over police, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse. There were no reports of impunity during the year.

From January to October, the attorney general ordered the criminal prosecution of police officers in four cases. From January to October, police investigated 17 criminal cases against members of the police force.


The law requires judicially issued arrest warrants, and authorities respected this requirement. Authorities may not detain a person for more than one day unless a court grants an extension. Most periods of investigative detention did not exceed 10 days before the filing of formal charges. Authorities promptly informed detainees of the charges against them in a language they could understand. The attorney general made efforts to minimize pretrial detention, especially in cases of serious crimes.

There is a system of bail. The government claimed the right to deport foreign nationals for reasons of public interest, regardless of whether criminal charges had been filed against them or they had been convicted of a crime. Trial delays were common and partially caused by lengthy legal procedures, which created a larger workload for the courts.

Detainees generally had access to an attorney. Detainees may speak to their attorney at any time, including before and during interrogation by police. The CPT reported that, in practice, police officers prevented detainees from contacting a lawyer until they had given a written statement. According to the CPT, representatives of the Cyprus Bar Association confirmed that a lawyer was not permitted to be present during police interviews. In criminal cases, the state provides indigent detainees with an attorney. To qualify for free legal aid, however, detainees first require a court decision confirming their financial need. The CPT noted this system inevitably delayed indigent detainees’ access to a lawyer.

The law and constitution provide for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.


The law provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right.

Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence. Officials informed defendants promptly and in detail of the charges against them. The constitution provides for fair and public trials without undue delay, and defendants have the right to be present and to consult with an attorney in a timely manner. Authorities provide an attorney for defendants who are unable to afford one and allow defendants adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. Authorities provided free interpretation as necessary through all stages of the trial. Defendants have the right to confront prosecution or plaintiff witnesses and present evidence or witnesses on their behalf. Criminal defendants enjoy the right not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Defendants have the right to appeal.


There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.


There is an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters, permitting claimants to bring lawsuits seeking damages for or cessation of human rights violations, and citizens used this procedure. Individuals could appeal cases involving alleged human rights violations by the state to the European Court of Human Rights once they exhausted all avenues of appeal in domestic courts.


According to the law, the minister of interior is the guardian of the properties of Turkish Cypriots who have not had permanent residence in the government-controlled area since 1974. Ownership remains with the original owner, but the sale or transfer of Turkish Cypriot property under the guardianship of the minister requires the approval of the government. The minister has the authority to return properties to Turkish Cypriot applicants after examining the circumstances of each case. Owners can appeal the minister’s decisions to the Administrative Court.

During the year Turkish Cypriots filed 35 court cases with the Administrative Court seeking to reclaim property located in the government-controlled area. The Administrative Court issued three decisions during the year, two in favor of the minister of interior retaining control of the properties and one in favor of the Turkish Cypriot property owner.

The law prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Cyprus – the Area Administered by Turkish Cypriots

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

There were no reports the “government” or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of “government” authorities.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The “law” prohibits such practices, but there were reports during the year that police abused detainees. The “law” does not refer to torture, which falls under the section of the “criminal code” that deals with assault, violence, and battery.

The “Attorney General’s Office” reported it received three complaints concerning police battery and use of force from January to September. The “Attorney General’s Office” reported a “court” case was filed for one of the complaints, and the other two were under investigation at year’s end.

In September a “court” found a police officer guilty of assault and battery for physically abusing a 67-year-old man arrested for the sexual assault of a mentally disabled 19-year-old man in 2016. According to reports, police beat the man in an effort to obtain his confession without informing him of the reason for his arrest. When the victim was later brought to identify the alleged attacker, police discovered they had detained the wrong person. The police officer was sentenced to two months in prison.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison and detention center conditions did not meet international standards in a number of areas, in particular for sanitary conditions, medical care, and food.

Physical Conditions: The area’s only prison, located in the northern part of Nicosia, has a stated capacity of 311. According to authorities, additional rooms were converted into cells and a bunkbed system was installed, which increased the capacity of the “Central Prison” to 480. As of September, it held 528 prisoners and pretrial detainees. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the ombudsman reported overcrowding remained a problem and that beds were stacked in the corridors at the “Central Prison.” The prison did not separate adults and juveniles, and there were no detention or correction centers for children. Due to lack of space, pretrial detainees and prisoners occupied the same cells.

In September police announced a 30-year-old detainee had committed suicide at a police station detention center in Kyrenia. Police reported the detainee used a lace from a pair of shorts his wife brought him while in custody to commit suicide. The detainee’s spouse released a statement claiming she never brought him a pair of shorts and accusing police of killing her husband. The detainee’s father told the press he also believed police killed his son. NGOs suspected police abuse contributed to the detainee’s death. The “Attorney General’s Office” began an investigation, which continued at year’s end.

NGOs said a lack of security cameras at detention centers and the “Central Prison” allowed police officers and prison guards to abuse detainees with impunity. NGOs also reported major problems in security, including violence between inmates and detainees. The ombudsman received complaints that detainees in the “Central Prison” did not receive sufficient food and that police detention centers lacked heating. NGOs reported that, because of a lack of official procedures at police detention centers, detainees frequently received no food while held, sometimes for longer than a day. In March the Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation (TCHRF) criticized detention cells at the “Central Prison” and police stations, which it claimed were sometimes underground, very small, and lacked light and ventilation.

In January the Refugee Rights Association (RRA) reported sanitation remained a significant issue in the “Central Prison” and that inadequate water supply failed to meet inmates’ hygiene needs. The RRA reported authorities did not provide soap, which detainees and inmates had to purchase themselves.

NGOs reported that prison healthcare was inadequate, lacking medical supplies, a full-time doctor, and a sufficient number of social workers. Authorities reported a doctor visited the prison twice a week and was on call for emergencies. NGOs reported complaints about contagious diseases at the “Central Prison,” including HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Authorities also reported there were a full-time psychologist and a dentist at the “Central Prison.”

Administration: Authorities did not conduct proper investigations of allegations of mistreatment at the “Central Prison.” Authorities reported receiving no complaints or allegations of mistreatment of prisoners or detainees at the “Central Prison.” Authorities stated facilities were available for Muslim prisoners and detainees to conduct their religious observance and that an imam visited the “Central Prison” on the religious days of Bayram. Authorities reported there were no facilities for religious observance for non-Muslim prisoners or detainees and that they received no requests for non-Muslim religious support.

Independent Monitoring: Authorities permitted prison monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers. Authorities reported foreign missions, local human rights NGOs, psychologist organizations, the “Fight against Drugs Commission,” and the press visited the “Central Prison.”

Improvements: Authorities reported implementing a rehabilitation pilot project for prisoners and detainees younger than age 21, with the aim of reintegrating them into the community.

The “law” prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and provides for the right of any person to challenge his/her arrest or detention in court, and authorities generally observed these prohibitions.


Police are responsible for enforcement of the “law.” The “chief of police” reports to a “general,” who is nominally under the supervision of the “Prime Ministry,” which holds the “security portfolio.” Police and Turkish Cypriot security forces are ultimately under the operational command of the Turkish armed forces, as provided by the “TRNC constitution,” which “temporarily” cedes responsibility for public security and defense to Turkey.

On January 23, local press outlets reported police officials failed to intervene effectively when a protest against the Afrika newspaper turned violent (see section 2.a.).

Police and other Turkish Cypriot security forces generally cooperated with civilian authorities and were effective in enforcing the “law.” The “Attorney General’s Office” worked with the police inspection division (or occasionally the criminal investigative division) to investigate allegations of police misconduct. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year.


Judicial warrants are required for arrests. According to the “law,” police must bring a detained person before a “judge” within 24 hours of arrest. Police can then keep the detainee in custody for up to three months, but a “judge” must review the detention after the third day and every eight days thereafter. Authorities generally respected this right and usually informed detainees promptly of charges against them, although they often held individuals believed to have committed a violent offense for longer periods without charge. Bail may be granted by the “courts” and was routinely used. “Courts” confiscated detainees’ passports pending trial. Authorities usually allowed detainees prompt access to family members and a lawyer of their choice, but NGOs noted cases in which authorities prevented detainees from seeing a lawyer. Authorities provided lawyers to the indigent only in cases involving violent offenses.

Police sometimes did not observe legal protections, particularly at the time of arrest. Contrary to the “law,” some “courts” did not permit suspects to have their lawyers present when giving testimony. Suspects who demanded the presence of a lawyer were sometimes physically intimidated or threatened with stiffer charges.

According to the TCHRF, during the detention review process officials pressure the detainee to sign a confession in order to be released on bail. It cited situations in which police used the threat of prolonged detention to induce detainees to plead guilty. The TCHRF commented that the absence of cameras or voice recorders and the lack of a requirement that a lawyer be present during questioning created an atmosphere in which police coerced detainees into signing or physically abused them until they signed statements admitting their guilt.

In January a suspect arrested for driving while intoxicated complained that police broke both his arms at the Iskele police station. Police accused the detainee of causing his own injuries and claimed to have video evidence but failed to produce it when requested by the suspect’s lawyer. The detainee filed a case against two police officers for abuse during his arrest. According to the “Attorney General’s Office,” the “Police General-Directorate” launched an investigation into the incident, which continued at year’s end.

According to the “TRNC constitution,” indicted detainees and prisoners have the fundamental right of access to “legal” representation. A lawyer said the “Central Prison Regulation” prohibits sentenced individuals in solitary confinement from meeting with a lawyer without the “Prison Director’s” permission. The “Prison Director” may deny the visit without providing a justification. According to the TCHRF, when the prison authorities want a detainee, indicted individual, or prisoner not to speak or meet with his or her family or lawyer, they commonly threatened to punish the individual with solitary confinement.

The “law” provides for an independent judiciary, and authorities generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.

Most criminal and civil cases begin in district “courts,” from which appeals are made to the “Supreme Court.” Civilian “courts” have jurisdiction in cases where civilians face charges of violating military restrictions, such as filming or photographing military zones.


The “law” provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and independent judicial authorities generally enforced this right.

Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence. Various NGO representatives and human rights lawyers noted defendants did not fully enjoy the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them. The “constitution” provides for fair, timely, and public trials; the defendant’s right to be present at those trials; and the defendant’s right to consult with an attorney in a timely manner. Criminal defendants enjoyed the right to adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense.

There was insufficient free interpretation for some languages and insufficient professional translation in “courts.” Lawyers reported there are only two official interpreters in the “TRNC court” system, and as a result in some cases lawyers acted as interpreters. Authorities haphazardly recruited nonprofessional translators who did not translate everything said during proceedings. Insufficient translation also delayed hearings and prolonged defendants’ detention. Defendants may question prosecution witnesses and present evidence and witnesses on their behalf. They cannot be compelled to testify or confess guilt, and have a right to appeal.


There were reports of detention of persons with alleged ties to the so-called “Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization (FETO)” and the deportation to Turkey of Turkish citizens purportedly affiliated with “FETO.”


Individuals or organizations may seek civil remedies for human rights violations through domestic “courts.” After exhausting local remedies, individuals and organizations may appeal adverse decisions that involve human rights to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).


Greek Cypriots continued to pursue property suits in the ECHR against the Turkish government for the loss of property located in the area administered by Turkish Cypriot authorities since 1974.

A property commission handles claims by Greek Cypriots. As of October, claimants had filed 6,485 applications with the commission, 922 of which were concluded through friendly settlements and 315 through formal hearings. The commission has paid more than 292 million British pounds ($378 million) in compensation to applicants.

The “law” prohibits such actions. There were reports that police subjected Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the area administered by Turkish Cypriot authorities to surveillance. Although authorities reported otherwise, a Maronite representative asserted that during the year the Turkish armed forces occupied 18 houses in the Maronite village of Karpasia.

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