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25 June, 2024
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Cypriot delegation pounded with human rights questions

Law commissioner says no country with perfect record on human rights but Cyprus will strive to do better


Cyprus’ law commissioner says her delegation received praise last week at a UN committee hearing in Geneva, but she also admitted that no country had a perfect record on human rights following a bombardment of questions on human rights.

Law Commissioner Louiza Christodoulidou-Zannetou was in the hot seat last week in Geneva, where a Cypriot delegation presented its 5th periodic report and answered questions by experts about the country’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

According to the Cyprus News Agency, Christodoulidou-Zannetou said most members on the committee congratulated the Cypriot team at the hearing. Additional reports said the delegation was commended for steps taken by the state to address previous observations.

CNA also said the law commissioner clarified “that they had been asked a lot of questions about the specific articles of the Covenant dealing with asylum, immigration, juvenile offenders, violence against women, detention, prisons, welfare, employment, gender equality and so on.”

Some issues raised included questions about a small number of filed complaints and whether people without access to legal aid were informed in their native language about their human rights.

Another expert challenged Nicosia’s previously-stated position that “nationality legislation is applied without discrimination” by citing reports about Turkish Cypriots born and raised in the divided island’s north being either denied issuance of citizenship documents or the process was being stalled.

A delegate responded by saying demographics had been altered after 1974, referring to the island’s geographical split when Turkish troops invaded in response to a Greek coup, saying Turkish citizens outnumbered Turkish Cypriots in the north although the numbers were unverifiable.

“It was important to take this deliberate violation of the fourth Geneva Convention into account when considering children of Turkish Cypriot citizens,” the delegate said.

Others grilled the Cypriot representatives on illegal pushbacks of irregular migrants, with the delegation expressing dissatisfaction over the term “pushback.”

The Cypriot team argued that coast guard officers approach boats to assess any immediate dangers while also admitting they were trained to identify illegal migrants, but maintained Cyprus followed its obligations under international law and respected non-refoulement principles.

Many other issues on were brought up at the hearing, often drawing prompt and direct responses from delegates, while many times those responses prompted follow-up questions that resulted to incomplete items.

According to Christodoulidou-Zannetou, the Cypriot delegation had the right to submit additional answers within 48 hours on any issues left answered within the allotted time of the hearing session.

But the commissioner said in her concluding remarks that “no country including Cyprus could claim a perfect record on human rights” but added her country would strive to do better.

Cyprus  |  UN  |  human  |  rights  |  law commissioner

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