An asylum seeker, who was detained on national security grounds and his application had been rejected, was ordered to walk free after the Supreme Court ruled state authorities had no legal basis to keep him locked up.
A Syrian male in his late 20’s, who was arrested in Spring 2019 on suspicion of terrorism, has been in detention in the Republic of Cyprus for 16 months.
According to local media, the detainee filed for asylum and international protection status on 28 February 2019, one day after he arrived on the island through the north. During his interview with migration officials, he was arrested on suspicion of terrorism.
The migration department then rejected his asylum application and in mid-May he filed an appeal where he argued against his incarceration.
But the judges rejected the position of the prosecution, saying while they acknowledged the severity of the situation, the applicant was not at fault for the reasons of his prolonged detention
An administrative court rejected his case on 27 June 2019, after prosecutors argued the defendant was being held on suspicion of terrorism and that he would be deported as soon as a country could be found to take him in.
But the defence attorney argued before the Supreme Court that the prolonged detention of her client violated Refugee Law, which stated that “the detention of an applicant shall be imposed for the shortest period possible and shall be valid only for the purpose provided by law.”
State prosecutors argued that the prolonged detention of the Syrian male was warranted because officials were still making efforts to find a country where he would be deported.
They also told the panel of Supreme Court judges that the delay in deportation proceedings was due to the ongoing civil war in Syria and the coronavirus pandemic, adding that airport closures affected the situation.
Indefinite detention not justified
But the judges rejected the position of the prosecution, saying while they acknowledged the severity of the situation, the applicant was not at fault for the reasons of his prolonged detention.
“Bearing in mind that detention is not an end in itself but takes place for the purpose of deportation, the problem that has arisen cannot justify indefinite detention of the applicant until a country for deportation is found,” the judges said.
Last year, the applicant through his defence attorney argued against his detention on national security grounds, saying there was “no trace whatsoever or any document trail” even to suggest his involvement in terrorism.
The attorney argued repeatedly that her client’s name was on a Terrorist Screening Center list without his knowledge and without ever being questioned about his alleged involvement with a terrorist group.
Supreme Court tells state to sort it out with EU
Following the latest decision, the asylum seeker was ordered to walk free and is expected to be without any legal status in the Republic of Cyprus.
According to Philenews, the judges recommended that state authorities and possibly European Union agencies could be called upon to find a solution for such situations.