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12° Nicosia,
10 August, 2022
 
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Cyprus targets 'alleged fathers' in immigration scheme

Interior minister tells registrar not to issue birth certificates when there are ‘clear doubts’ over paternity

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Cypriot Interior Minister Nicos Nouris has sent out a cable telling administrators to hold off on issuing any birth certificates in cases where staff may have doubts over the paternity of a child until new legislation can allow sampling DNA from alleged fathers.

According to local media, Nouris has given instructions to the registry office to deny the issuance of birth certificates in cases where administrators may doubt the paternity of the baby.

The news made headlines following reports in the local press over an alleged immigration scheme where female asylum seekers would declare Cypriot and European men as the fathers of their newborn babies.

Current legislation does not allow administrators to request DNA proof, following guidance issued in 2015 that said the practice was unlawful, but a new legal opinion points to a new direction

“Unfortunately there are more Cypriots, and I will say this, as well as Europeans who appear to get paid by African women to claim fatherhood of their out-of-wedlock children, so that they can be registered as citizens of the Republic of Cyprus,” Nouris said.

The minister told a local television network that in one case a German man had claimed four babies as his own, corresponding to three different female asylum seekers in Nicosia.

Nouris said there were 31 such cases in the last three months and went on to confirm reports that he has told registry office staff not to issue birth certificates if they had any suspicions over the alleged fatherhood.

Current legislation in the Republic of Cyprus does not allow administrators to request genetic proof, following guidance issued in 2015 that clarified such practice to demand DNA samples was an unlawful invasion of privacy.

But Nouris says the Legal Services Department has issued a new opinion on the issue, adding that a new bill proposal sponsored by his office was being drafted.

Until then, the minister has issued an executive order notifying the registry office “when there are clear doubts over paternity, the registrar shall not issue a birth certificate.”

It is understood that both married and unmarried fathers in the Republic of Cyprus can seek to establish paternity, the state of being a father, by signing a paternity acknowledgement affidavit.

Nouris has not made clear what might be the definition of illegitimate fatherhood in a birth certificate request but pointed to inconsistencies during interviews.

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