The President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades received today at the Presidential Palace the report of the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights, Maria Stylianou-Lottides on the 15-year old, in the presence of the Minister of Labor, Welfare and Social Security Zeta Emilianou.
The case involves a 15-year-old student who was found hanged in early September 2019, with reports showing that the 15-year-old appeared unable to cope with his father’s abuse, the many family problems and the abandonment of the three underage children by their mother. The case was handed over to the Welfare Services but no one did anything about it, leading to the 15-year-old Stylianos deciding to end his life.
Delivering the report, the Commissioner informed that it was completed on 14 November 2019, within the timetable, noting that issues of personal responsibility had arisen both for the social workers in the Welfare Office as well as the police, while the other two departments, the Ministry of Education and of Mental Health, do not seem to be involved in any way.
“What I want to stress is that we are dealing with a case that opened back in 2007. There were shortcomings and incorrect estimates already from 2007, which peaked in 2013, while complete inactivity followed during the 2013-2019 period.
As evidence show, it was not a matter of understaffing either. All the circulars and manuals that were to be followed were there; had they been followed precisely, we would not have this tragic outcome today”.
For his part, the President of Cyprus congratulated the Commissioner on the speed with which the investigation was carried out, while expressing at the same time his regret for the findings of the report.
He added that “of course we will not dwell on mere findings. The presence of the Minister is not accidental. She is here because she, as well as myself, would also like to see how such phenomena of disobedience in the enforcement of the regulations, or of negligence or indifference, are addressed”.
Later, in her statements to the reporters at the Presidential Palace, the Commissioner said that “there is a personal responsibility for the welfare office staff. Both criminal and disciplinary offenses have been reported. I also note that there was complete criminal negligence in applying the procedures, circulars, relevant manuals that were in place and updated from time to time; yet (officials) had shown complete disregard for this. The Police are also responsible for the very same reasons; that is, for violating relevant police orders issued by the Chief of Police.
Due to possible criminal offenses, the report will be sent to the Attorney General of the Republic”.
Asked how many people are involved in the report, Stylianou-Lottides said that “four people from the Welfare Office” are included for personal responsibility.
There is also potential criminal liability of a person who is not a civil servant.
The Police will verify the allegations with the Chief, as it involves omission from front-line police officers, and the Chief will have to investigate on his own to reveal the names”.
For her part, in her statements to reporters, the Minister said that “we have launched an independent investigation into this tragic event precisely to look into the consequences and responsibility for any tragic death.
The Government fully endorses the Commissioner’s conclusions on the Social Welfare Services.
I note that the disciplinary responsibilities will be fully followed by the procedures with the necessary suspensions. Officers will also be given the opportunity to be heard as required by law.
For criminal offenses, we will also assist the Attorney General, because indeed anyone responsible must be held accountable.
It is clear from the Commissioner’s report that the procedures and circulars were there, but the necessary steps provided were not taken”. /ibna