The parliament in the Republic of Cyprus has failed to approve funds allocated for a juvenile detention center, causing the country to remain the only EU member state without a proper correctional facility for young offenders.
According to local media, the House finance committee this week did not release €800,000 that was earmarked for a juvenile detention center as per new law voted last year, causing delays and a missed deadline.
Justice Minister Stefi Drakou, who expected a correctional facility could be ready by year’s end, said earlier this month that all the paperwork was ready and by early summer public bids could be submitted.
A 2021 law stipulates that 'in the event of an arrest of a juvenile suspected of committing an offense, the child shall not come into contact with any detained adult'
But reports this week said members of the finance committee did not give consent for the release of the funds.
According to Philenews, MPs did not agree with a regulation that the facility would be operated by a private contractor.
While there are no juvenile detention centers in Cyprus, in the last two decades the justice system in the Republic of Cyprus provided for delinquent youths who also had a drug abuse problem to be admitted to state-funded detox centers.
Non-drug related offences meant young persons in remanded custody or detention were being sent to the state’s penitentiary in the capital.
But a 2021 law stipulates that “in the event of an arrest of a juvenile suspected of committing an offense, the child shall not come into contact with any detained adult.”
A juvenile detention center could accommodate young offenders aged between 16 and 21.
Drakou says the new facility would focus on reforming, teaching, and healing young offenders “in a privileged setting.”
“This facility will even have a school so that children don’t have to miss any lessons,” Drakou said.
Justice Ministry figures show youth delinquency dropped down recently, from 324 in 2019 to 176 so far in 2022, with experts suggesting pandemic restrictions could be the primary cause for the decrease.
The correctional facility is expected to accommodate up to 25 young offenders, while Drakou said it could be set up either in Nicosia or Larnaca district.