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23 May, 2024
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Dad’s hurried deportation stirs debate in Cyprus

Showdown as commissioner and state authorities butt heads after son says dad was drugged on way to airport


The hasty deportation of a detained man, whose wife and teenage son remain in Cyprus, has stirred up debate this week, bringing the child commissioner head to head with the state’s law enforcement authorities and even the interior minister himself.

Despo Michaelidou-Livaniou, the Commissioner for Children's Rights in the Republic of Cyprus, has shared on social media a letter she had sent to state authorities in search of an official explanation about the deportation of man whose 15-year-old son says dad was drugged and deported without notice.

According to local media, a man from Georgia who was being held at the Menogeia Immigration Detention Center, Larnaca district, was hurried to the airport by law enforcement agents and put on a flight to his country.

Individuals showed up at the deportation facility and handcuffed his dad, who was also assigned an ankle bracelet and administered a tranquilizer shot before being hurried to Larnaca airport

The son, who was born and raised on the island, called Commissioner’s office and spoke with an administrator, according to Michaelidou, who took to social media after “the deportation took place without forewarning or preparation.”

According to boy, six or seven individuals showed up Wednesday at the deportation facility and handcuffed his dad, who was also assigned an ankle bracelet and administered a tranquilizer shot before being hurried to Larnaca International Airport.

Officials say family had option to leave voluntarily

Cyprus Police and the Interior Ministry, which oversees Immigration Police, quickly issued statements in response to the commissioner’s remarks, with law enforcement officials saying everything was done by the book.

A statement from the interior ministry said the man was out of legal status and had lost his appeals, adding that the Georgian national had been given the option to live with his family voluntarily.

“As there were options given to them including foregoing the father’s detention on the condition he would do all that is necessary to repatriate the family, he did not do so at any time during his unlawful stay for many years,” the ministry said.

Police deny dart gunning detainee, say he was cooperative

Hours later police also weighed in and issued a statement denying the use of an intramuscular injection, saying “police never employ such methods.”

“The foreign national was informed about the process and during the procedure and had been cooperative throughout his deportation proceedings without any problem whatsoever,” police said.

Police went on to say that the “deportation of the person in question was carried out lawfully and was based entirely on immigration decrees, as he had illegally entered and overstayed in the Republic of Cyprus in 2015, as it is stated in today's announcement of the Ministry of the Interior.”

But it was not fully clear whether the couple had entered Cyprus illegally in the first place.

Initial immigration status unclear

The interior ministry in its statement said the couple had sought international protection but did not clarify when they stopped being considered bona fide applicants.

People who enter an EU member state illegally to apply for asylum cannot be refused entrance, but the interior ministry argues irregular immigrants who seek protection are in fact economic migrants who can be lawfully refused entry. The government has been regularly deporting people whose applications have been rejected, as they are deemed out-of-status and in violation of immigration law.

Ministry officials also say the family had appeal against the rejection of their initial claim and also filed a Habeas Corpus for the detention of the father, which was rejected by the Supreme Court.

But Michaelidou doubts the family’s case has been analyzed properly.

The commissioner said on Thursday that the father could be eligible for permission to stay on humanitarian grounds, citing the child’s rights and what was in his best interest.

“Yesterday's deportation raise serious concerns regarding whether the points I made had even been taken into account,” Michaelidou said.

The child commissioner went on to call on authorities to pay attention in to future operations so that actions they take “ensure what is in the best interest of a child as afforded by the Convention, which may I remind that it is incorporated into national legislation and provide for specific obligations.”

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