Nicosia, February 2, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
Cyprus has seen many positive developments concerning the treatment of people in detention, but still faces several challenges, particularly regarding the independent monitoring of places of detention and the treatment of migrants, the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) has said after visiting the country.
According to a press release by the Subcommittee, its members visited Cyprus from 25 to 29 January.
“We were very pleased to have visited Cyprus and take note of improvements. But the situation of those in immigration detention centres requires careful attention. It is so important to ensure that such detention is only resorted to when it is strictly necessary”, Malcolm Evans, the SPT Chair and head of the four-member delegation to Cyprus notes in the press release.
The SPT also held discussions with representatives of the Cypriot monitoring body, officially known as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), on how they work and the challenges they face in fulfilling their role.
“We are particularly concerned that the National Preventive Mechanism for torture prevention, which is a part of the Ombudsman’s office, should be much better resourced financially and have its legal powers reviewed so that it can continue and expand its good work. It currently does not have the capacity to work as the Optional Protocol requires,” Professor Evans adds.
The delegation also visited police stations in several parts of the country, Nicosia Central Prison, Athalassa Psychiatric Hospital and centres for unaccompanied teenage migrants and for minors.
Following the visit, the SPT will submit a confidential report to the Government of Cyprus, containing its observations and recommendations on prevention of torture and ill-treatment of individuals deprived of their liberty. As with all other States, the SPT is encouraging Cyprus to make this report public.
“I am sure that working together in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, we will be able to help the Cypriot authorities make progress in achieving a betterment for all those who are in detention,” Professor Evans concludes.