The special task force looking into complaints against the police is having a tough time investigating cases, primarily due to lack of funding but also possible conflicts of interest.
The Independent Authority for the Investigation of Allegations and Complaints Against the Police (IAIACAP), voted into law in 2006, says it received 234 complaints in 2017. This number has steadily been kept above the 200 mark since 2014, with many cases involving abuse of authority and corruption.
The IAIACAP appeared before the Ethics House committee on Wednesda, whose members heard that 92 investigators were assigned to cases, with six becoming criminal cases and five resulting to disciplinary action.
Some investigators who are asked to investigate cops could be the same individuals after retiring from the force
“But it is not only that these complaints become criminal or disciplinary cases. It is also a weapon that citizens can use in civil lawsuits – if that is the case – against the Republic,” said House committee chairman Zacharias Zachariou.
But the lack of funding means fewer cases or less work can be done.
Opposition party Akel MP Aristos Damianou said that the tight budget is something that was pointed out in reports funded by the European Union.
“Despite the ongoing effort, there are findings in reports by European Council committees that raise concern,” Damianou said, adding that these reports point to “issues with inadequate budgets that the state provides to the task force.”
Police investigating themselves
Another issue came up in the House committee meeting regarding possible conflict of interest among investigators, especially forensic pathologists.
“There is potential conflict of interest among forensic examiners, who are being called to investigate complaints against the police while at the same working for the police either on a contractual basis or freelance,” Damianou said.
The MP also pointed out in some investigators who are asked to investigate cops could be the same individuals after retiring from the force.
Diko MP Zacharias Koulias summed up the committee hearing by saying that the task force cannot do its job properly.
“Essentially, [the task force] has been stripped and cannot carry out its mission that was assigned to it in accordance with the law,” Koulias said.
The house commitee also heard about the improvements made over the years, with police striving to do a better job in addressing citizen concerns.