Natrag UK Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus: First report from the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has published its first report on the United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) on Cyprus following a visit to the island in February 2017.
UK Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus: First report from the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee

The report assesses conditions of detention and the treatment of people held by the SBA Police and the British Forces Cyprus in various locations including police stations, Her Majesty’s Prison at Dhekelia and military detention facilities. It also briefly examines the situation of migrants held within the SBA.

The CPT received no allegations of ill-treatment by SBA police officers or police staff at HMP Dhekelia, and detainees appeared to be generally treated well.

However, concerning the police, the CPT highlights delays in providing access to a lawyer, long periods of remand custody at Kolossi Police Station and poor conditions of detention at Dhekelia Police Station. The report also says that the police should no longer use the “16 Flight” aircraft hangar as a place of detention, expressing particular concern about the detention of young children and infants there.

With regard to HMP Dhekelia, the report raises concerns about the nature of the accommodation, the lack of organised activities and the totally inadequate regime for prisoners serving long sentences, as well as the lack of medical confidentiality and unsafe distribution of medication. The CPT recommends that a full review should be carried out as to whether the facility remains viable under its current mode of operation.

Regarding military detention, which includes civilians subject to service discipline, the CPT recommends that the location and movements of people detained by the Cyprus Joint Police Unit should be fully recorded. The CPT also highlights concerns about the right of access to a lawyer, the functioning of the complaints system and the regime for detainees. It also asks for information on any plans to professionalise staffing at the Service Custody Facility.

Today’s report has been published together with the response from the UK and SBA authorities. In their response to the report, the UK authorities provide information on the action being taken to address the CPT’s recommendations.

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