European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Fourth report on Cyprus [en] - [fr] - [gr]


Press Release – 31.05.2011

Greek version

Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Cyprus

Strasbourg, 31.05.2011 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on Cyprus. ECRI’s Chair, Nils Muiznieks, said that, while there are positive developments, some issues of concern remain, such as the disproportionately high concentration of Turkish Cypriot and Roma pupils in particular schools and the continued vulnerability of foreign domestic workers.

Cyprus has established a comprehensive legal framework for safeguarding equality and combating discrimination. The Independent Authority for the Investigation of Complaints and Allegations concerning the Police has been set up and the Observatory against Violence records and analyses episodes of violence in schools and assesses incidents of a racist nature.

Measures in favour of Turkish Cypriots have been taken, including a law adopted in 2006 allowing Turkish Cypriot residents to vote and be elected in parliamentary, municipal and community elections and to vote in presidential elections.

However, Cyprus still lacks an integration policy and pursues a restrictive immigration policy, particularly concerning the granting of long term residence status. Legislation is being prepared to combat irregular migration through “sham marriages” before they even take place. There is a rise in prominence of extremist anti-immigration groups and certain ultra-nationalist websites disseminate hate speech. The Polemidia housing settlement for Roma constitutes de facto segregation from the majority population and the children are denied their right to education.

Despite some improvements in the asylum system, access to employment for asylum seekers is restricted to specific unskilled sectors. Legal aid is only available at the appeal stage against negative asylum decisions and very few meet the conditions to obtain it.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the Cypriot authorities, three of which require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

  • take urgent steps to implement fully the programme Zones of Educational Priority, in particular in respect of the 18th Primary School, to ensure that the right to education is respected in practice;
  • revise their legislative plans to adopt a policy requiring third country nationals wishing to marry Cypriot or EU citizens to pass a premarital interview with the migration authorities before being given permission to marry;
  • develop further the Crime Report System and improve the court archiving system so that cases are classified also by subject matter and clearly indicate racist elements.

The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Cyprus in September 2010 [Press Release – 24.09.2010] and takes account of developments up to December 2010.

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, citizenship, religion and language, as well as xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.

For more information on ECRI: www.coe.int/ecri

Press contact: Stefano Valenti, Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 43 28, stefano.valenti@coe.int