Armed soldiers and police officers will very soon be holding joint patrols in downtown Nicosia, with the justice minister saying the measures are being taken to combat crime, terrorism, and illegal immigration.
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According to the Cyprus News Agency, Justice Minister Yiorgos Savvides said law enforcement officers and members of the National Guard will be holding joint patrols in Nicosia along the Green Line, starting on Monday, December 9, while SWAT team officers will start before the weekend.
Savvides told CNA that police and military officers will be on foot patrols along the buffer zone through the walled city on a 24-hour basis, while members of the SWAT team will be patrolling the capital's downtown in the afternoons and during evening hours starting on Saturday, December 6.
The minister said he was confident the measures would 'contribute to instilling a sense of security among members of the public'
According to CNA, the minister said the new measures were being taken in addition to other ongoing safety and security mechanisms “in an effort to fight crime, terrorism, and illegal immigration.”
Savvides also said he was confident that the measures would “contribute to instilling a sense of security among members of the public.”
It was not clear whether the joined patrols were meant to coincide with the winter holidays. Police have not issued an announcement regarding the measures downtown, referring Knews to the statements made by the justice minister.
Last week, the government was said to be going forward with a plan to purchase security cameras and advanced surveillance systems to be installed along the Green Line, which runs through the divided capital.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, the cameras are expected to be installed in the second half of 2020, with sources saying that advanced high-end equipment would be purchased from Israel.
The President’s Cabinet recently okayed a set of measures that would boost the security apparatus along the entire buffer zone from east to west, while also pushing forward with policies that would bar people in certain categories of third-country nationals from crossing the checkpoints, north or south, throughout the Republic.
A Green Line regulation secures the right of third-country nationals to cross north and south as long as they “possess either a residence permit issued by the Republic of Cyprus or a valid travel document and, if required, a valid visa for the Republic of Cyprus,” while also not representing “a threat to public policy or public security.”
While the measures were not expected to apply to bona fide asylum seekers, the government favours creating checkpoint stations where migration officers would be called upon to make a preliminary assessment on the eligibility of asylum claims before a person is allowed to go through.