Cyprus to toughen pandemic, fire-starter laws

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Attorney-General George Savvides and House President Annita Demetriou agree on replacing antiquated laws on contagious diseases and preventing wildfires with more effective rules and stricter fines.

They had a meeting to examine new legislation to tackle fire prevention with stricter sentences following the deadly blaze on July 3 that started in Arakapas.

A 67-year-old farmer is in police custody suspected of starting the fire while illegally burning dead vegetation in his field.

Savvides said they also discussed replacing the outdated Quarantine Law with a new law for contagious diseases.

It would still give the Cabinet and the Health Ministry the right to issue decrees to avert the spread of diseases, like COVID-19, which developed into a pandemic.

It will also allow citizens to resort to justice for violation of their rights and freedoms.

Savvides said the two discussed issues concerning cooperation between the House and the role of the Attorney-General and the Law Service.

“We have common views, and we both believe that there should be closer contact between both sides.

“We discussed some laws which we believe need to be amended, and the House leader agrees.”

The Attorney General said starting fires must be treated as a serious criminal offence with the severest punishment.

“This will be done to tackle the root of the problem so that no burning will be allowed, and offenders are punished regardless of their actions causing fire or not.”

Savvides said the Quarantine Law, which plays a significant role in preventing and combatting COVID-19, needs to be improved, updated, and replaced.

A contagious diseases law was approved by the Cabinet last week and will be taken before the House.

Regarding the fines which the new law will provide, he said they would be harsh, according to the size of each business.

“I believe they are satisfactory and quite dissuasive, adding that if a business continues to violate the law, the fines will increase, and the Police Chief will have the right to issue a decree to close down the business.”

Demetriou said it was imperative to have a unified legislative framework for dealing with fires.

A meeting will be held over the weekend between the Attorney-General and the relevant ministries.

She said there are many laws, different legislation which needs to be under the same umbrella.

“Whatever takes to be effective and useful, we will do that immediately.”