Cyprus Police say they will continue to partner up with the Interior Ministry to conduct immigration sweeps, arresting on the spot any foreign nationals deemed to be in violation of their immigration status.
According to police, 2320 foreign nationals in the Republic of Cyprus were deported in 2021, with the annual numbers on a continuous climb over the last few years.
Police spokesperson Christos Andreou, who made comments to the Cyprus News Agency this week, said law enforcement agents have been racking up on immigration sweeps and detentions in specific areas of towns and other locations where foreign nationals were known to congregate.
It remained unclear whether searches were based on court warrants or officers were conducting arbitrary checks.
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, arbitrary arrests and detentions are prohibited by law.
'We are carrying out inspections and if illegal migrants are found they get arrested and then follow necessary procedures'
But Andreou says in some cases individuals found to be in violation of their immigration status also had run-ins with police.
“We are carrying out inspections and if illegal migrants are found they get arrested and then follow necessary procedures,” Andreou said.
Last week law enforcement officers extracted 60 asylum seekers from their place of residence on New Year’s Eve and transported them to a deportation facility. The operation took place one week after an eviction notice was delivered on Christmas Eve, citing zoning violations.
A week prior, an army convoy transported hundreds of asylum seekers from an overcrowded camp in rural Nicosia to Larnaca’s brand new camp adjacent to a deportation facility, with the government saying the transfer took place amid fears of coronavirus spread in the congested facility.
According to Andreou, there were 695 deportations in 2018, and 417 in 2019, while his latest figures showed 1272 had been deported last year.
Local media said many people were being deported after having asylum applications rejected or found to have overstayed their visas, while a number of individuals were said to have flown back voluntarily.
Cypriot Interior Minister Nicos Nouris, who has taken a tough stance on migration, maintains many asylum seekers are in fact “economic migrants” and the government is trying to expedite procedures to unclog the system.
But critics have accused Nouris of pushing for policies aimed at concentrating asylum seekers in detention facilities as they wait for their applications to be adjudicated.