Cyprus urged to prevent ill-treatment of migrants

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Europe’s anti-torture monitor urged authorities in Cyprus to act proactively to ensure there’s no ill-treatment of irregular migrants during failed repatriation attempts.

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture said in a report Thursday that the persistence of allegations of ill-treatment when repatriation attempts go awry “should be a stimulus” for Cypriot authorities to take “a proactive approach to the detention and prevention of ill-treatment.”

The committee said during a visit in November 2022, it did observe migrants repatriated to the Democratic Republic of Congo who were treated with “dignity and respect.”

But it had received allegations of ill-treatment during failed repatriations in the months preceding that visit.

The committee said authorities should keep meticulous records of any incident and medical reports at detention facilities and conduct thorough physical examinations on all individuals admitted before departure.

Such records would help authorities establish the veracity of allegations of ill-treatment and enable them to take those necessary steps to forestall such incidents, the anti-torture monitor said.

Additionally, it called upon authorities to inform detained migrants slated for repatriation of their departure date verbally and in writing to prevent misunderstandings that could lead to tensions during the procedure.

The committee also asked for more details on how detained migrants can access free-of-charge legal assistance amid claims that the legal aid scheme is “marred with difficulties.”

Cypriot authorities said they would formally remind detention centre officials to conduct thorough medical examinations of detainees, to keep detailed medical files and ensure migrants due for repatriation are informed of their departure promptly.

Cyprus repatriated approximately 5000 migrants between Jan-October 2022.

According to 2023 official figures, 2,714 migrants were repatriated between April and June. (Source AP)