Child commissioner slams inhumane deportation tactics

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Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Despo Michaelidou, has lashed out at authorities over the deportation of the migrant Georgian father of a 15-year-old born and raised in Cyprus.

In a letter to Interior Minister Nikos Nouris, Michaelidou criticised the authority for going ahead with deporting the father under inhumane conditions, despite her previous intervention.

She said that the 15-year-old said 6-7 officers without any prior warning showed up at the migrant detention centre in Menoyia to execute a deportation order.

The teenager said, “officers used handcuffs, an electronic leg bracelet and a sedative injection, took him to the airport where he was deported to his country of origin”.

The Commissioner said the father is reportedly in a bad psychological state and has been informed that his wife and child will also be deported in the coming days.

“Given these developments, the minor is also in a bad psychological state.

“I consider the development unfortunate, with short- and long-term implications on the child’s life and his overall rights as a child,” said Michaelidou.

“The state’s power to exercise immigration control is respected but, as I have often stated, it must be exercised under the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child when it directly or indirectly affects children”.

Born in Cyprus

In a previous intervention, she had pointed out to the ministry that the minor was born in Cyprus and had strong social and educational bonds with the country, falling into the category of migrants with a long and established stay in Cyprus.

“Given all of the above, I have requested that you give instructions to review the possibility of granting the father a special residence and work permit for humanitarian reasons.

“When making these decisions, I ask that the right to family life, health, and education be taken into account, thus allowing the 15-year-old child to complete his high school education in a language he knows.”

The Commissioner criticised the ministry for ignoring her previous intervention on the issue.

“I would like to draw attention to the fact that future actions of the competent services ensure the interest and rights of the minor, as provided for by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which, let me remind you, are incorporated into the national legislation and impose specific obligations.”

In reply to the Commissioner, the Interior Ministry said it had offered the family the opportunity to depart voluntarily before being deported.

The ministry said the case involves a Georgian couple who “illegally entered the Republic of Cyprus in 2005 and both their request for international protection, their appeal to the Refugee Review Authority, and their request to the Supreme Court for the issuance of a privileged Habeas Corpus decree, were rejected.

“The couple had a child during their illegal stay in the Republic”.

The ministry said the family remained illegally in the country “without taking any action to legalise their stay, despite repeated opportunities and recommendations to do so”.

“The opportunities given to them include the suspension of the father’s detention on the condition that he takes all the necessary actions for the voluntary repatriation of the family, which he did not do at any stage of their long illegal stay”.