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04 July, 2020
 
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Bill calls for videotaping police interrogations

Republic of Cyprus trying to catch up with other states in criminal procedure law

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The House is looking into legislation that would make mandatory the videotaping of custodial interrogations, a move that would allow the Republic of Cyprus to join other modern states in the way suspects are being treated by police.

According to MP Giorgos Georgiou, the chairman of the Legal Affairs parliament committee, new proposed legislation aims at modifying the penal code in order to make it mandatory for police investigators to use audio and video recording during an interrogation of a suspect or deposition by suspects or persons of interests in criminal investigations.

Georgiou said proposed legislation that would modify criminal procedure law has been proposed by all political parties represented in the committee, but it was not clear whether there had been disagreements over any provisions.

The Republic of Cyprus has been heavily criticized for the lack of transparency during suspect interrogations, as there is nothing in the books that would provide for a legal recording of a suspect during interrogation.

Members of parliament registered the topic one month after foreign media took note of the fact that nothing was ever recorded during an alleged rape victim's interrogation by police

Members of parliament registered the topic back in February, following criticism over last year’s high-profile Ayia Napa rape case that came to an end in January.

A British female, who alleged she was raped by a group of Israeli teens in one of the resort town’s hotel rooms, was found guilty of lying to police after prosecutors in a public mischief trial said interrogators obtained a signed document from her retracting her story.

But the teen, who ended up as a defendant in a public mischief trial and was convicted, maintained all along that she was coerced by officers during a lengthy interrogation to withdraw the accusations.

Police vehemently denied any wrongdoing with a local judge ruling that the alleged rape victim had lied to law enforcement officers and misled the court. The judge said he had found police officers to be credible before handing down a four month suspended sentence.

Foreign media took note of the fact that nothing was ever recorded during the teen’s interrogation by police, with critics asking questions about the case and other similar cases where people who alleged police abuse were convicted on lack of credibility or lack of evidence.

Georgiou said the proposed legislation would bring Cyprus up to speed with criminal procedure laws in other modern states, ensuring proper checks and balances as required by the Constitution.

Having an electronic record is expected to be seen as beneficial to both suspects and law enforcement officials, as it removes uncertainty over what actually transpires during an interrogation or deposition.

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