State Department highlights Cyprus corruption

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A US State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices has highlighted serious corruption in Cyprus, violence targeting ethnic minorities, and not investigating attacks against women.

In its executive summary, the report said that members of the security forces committed some abuses.

“Significant human rights issues included: serious acts of corruption; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting members of national and ethnic minorities; and lack of investigation of and accountability for violence against women”, the report said.

“The government took steps to identify, investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed human rights abuses.”

Referring to corruption, the report highlighted The Cyprus Papers probe by Al Jazeera on the ‘golden passports’ scheme.

Undercover reporters captured extensive evidence of government corruption related to the Citizenship by Investment Scheme (CIS).

In an Al Jazeera undercover video, the House of Representatives speaker, Demetris Syllouris, AKEL MP Christakis Giovani, and CIS facilitators indicated their willingness to assist a fictitious Chinese applicant whom they were told had been convicted of money laundering and corruption.

On October 13, the government announced it was terminating the program, effective November 1. Attorney-General George Savvides ordered an investigation into any possible criminal offences arising from the Al Jazeera report.

Syllouris and Giovani resigned from the House of Representatives.

It also refers to the sentencing and imprisonment of officials and a former mayor for corruption, bribery, money laundering, and other related charges connected to waste management plants operated by the municipalities of Larnaca and Paphos.

The State Department report said the Independent Police Complaints Authority receiving 39 complaints against police officers for abuse of power, inappropriate behaviour, and unjustifiably issuing fines during the enforcement of COVID-19-related restrictions.

The government, it added, imposed restrictions on some internal movement and movement through crossing points to the areas administered by Turkish Cypriots to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and applied these restrictions equally to all.

Regarding the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus, the report underlines that Turkish Cypriots have administered the northern part of Cyprus since 1974. The United States does not recognize the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” nor does any country other than Turkey.

In the north, significant human rights issues included: serious restrictions on freedom of expression and the press, including criminal libel laws; refoulement of asylum seekers; serious acts of corruption; lack of investigation of and accountability for violence against women; trafficking in persons; and crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting members of national minorities.

Authorities took steps to investigate officials following allegations of human rights abuses. There was evidence, however, of impunity, the report adds. (source CNA)