Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
30 July-17 August 2001
The Committee considered the fifteenth and sixteenth periodic reports of Cyprus (CERD/C/384/Add.4), which were due on 4 January 1998 and 2000, respectively, submitted as one document as well as a supplementary report (CERD/C/384/Add.4/Rev.1), at its 1472nd and 1473rd meetings (CERD/C/SR.1472 and 1473), on 2 and 3 August 2001. At its 1483rd meeting (CERD/C/SR.1483), on 10 August 2001, it adopted the following concluding observations.
The Committee welcomes the fifteenth and sixteenth periodic reports of Cyprus, as well as the supplementary report presented by the State party, which provide detailed answers to concerns expressed and recommendations made by the Committee in its previous concluding observations
(CERD/C/304/Add.56). The Committee appreciates the delegation’s frankness and sincerity during the presentation of the report and its acknowledgement of the difficulties faced in implementing the Convention.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
Despite Cyprus having been one of the first countries to ratify the Convention, the Government of Cyprus is still prevented from implementing the provisions of the Convention throughout its national territory. The occupation since 1974 by Turkish forces of 37 per cent of the territory has caused the de facto separation of the various ethnic and religious communities. This artificial division is not only an obstacle to peace and the enjoyment of human rights in the region, but impedes the construction of a progressive anti-discrimination strategy for the island as a whole. In this context, attention is drawn to the Committee’s decision 1 (59) on Cyprus adopted by the Committee on 13 August 2001 (see chap. X).
C. Positive aspects
The Committee welcomes the setting up in September 1998 of the National Institution for the Protection of Human Rights, which contributes,
inter alia, to the dissemination of information with regard to the Convention and other international conventions. It also welcomes the appointment of the Presidential Commissioner for Minorities.
The Committee notes with satisfaction the establishment of a Complaints Office within the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance in charge of dealing with complaints made by foreign workers, including domestic workers.
The Committee welcomes the extension of the powers of the Attorney-General to appoint criminal investigators to investigate police behaviour without the requirement of a written complaint addressed to the Attorney-General by the alleged victim of racial discrimination.
The Committee expresses satisfaction at the recent amendment (Law 28 III of 1999) of Law 11 (III) of 1992 which criminalizes acts mentioned in article 4 of the Convention. As a result of the amendment it is no longer necessary that incitement to racial hatred be intentional in order for the offence to be committed.
Satisfaction is also expressed at the amendment of the 1967 Citizenship Law which eradicates discrimination in marriage to foreigners. Through this amendment, the right of an alien spouse to acquire the citizenship of the Cypriot spouse is now recognized for both spouses, as is the equal right of both spouses to transmit citizenship to their children.
The Committee notes with approval that a draft marriage law, allowing marriage between a Greek Orthodox Christian and a Muslim of Turkish origin has been approved by the Council of Ministers and laid before the House of Representatives for enactment.
Developments in the field of education, particularly efforts to promote human rights awareness in schools, the subsidizing of the education of minority groups and the establishment of elementary schools for the Maronites, are encouraging.
The Committee welcomes the clarification that the Constitution of Cyprus, although resulting from international treaties, may be amended so that,
inter alia, the legal system in Cyprus can reflect more fully the requirements of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
D. Concerns and recommendations
Concerning information on cases of violence committed by police against aliens entering Cyprus illegally, the Committee recommends that the authorities continue to monitor such incidents closely and take appropriate steps to deal with them.
While the State party has enacted a number of criminal law provisions in the field of racial discrimination, and amended them following the Committee’s recommendations, there is little evidence that these criminal provisions are being used. The State party is invited to provide information about the number of complaints of racial discrimination brought before the courts as well as the corresponding decisions.
The Committee expresses its concern at the lack of legal provisions expressly outlawing racial discrimination by private persons in education and employment, and recommends that the State party give attention to the development of such legislation.
While commending the State party for the enactment of the 2000 Refugee Act, the Committee recommends the prompt adoption of the necessary mechanisms for its full implementation, especially with respect to refugee status determination.
The Committee expresses concern at the absence of a comprehensive immigration policy aimed at regulating the entry and stay of immigrants, as well as their employment rights.
The Committee encourages the State party to take further steps to increase awareness of the Convention among the general public, in particular foreign domestic workers, members of the police and the judiciary. It also recommends that measures taken by the State party to combat discrimination in the field of education, culture and information be intensified.
The State party is invited to provide in its next report updated information on: (a) the work of the Presidential Commissioner for Minorities; and (b) the demographic composition of the population in the Government-controlled area and the Turkish-occupied territory, disaggregated by community, ethnic group and gender. In this context, attention is drawn to general recommendation XXV on gender-related dimensions of racial discrimination.
The Committee shares the State party’s concern that despite efforts undertaken by the Government of Cyprus to organize bicommunal activities there are continuous difficulties hindering the meeting of the Turkish and Greek communities and the restoration of mutual confidence. The Committee recommends that the State party continue to adopt confidence-building measures in order to promote a climate of respect for human rights for all its citizens.
The Committee notes that no communications were received under article 14, which may indicate a lack of awareness of this procedure under the Convention.
The Committee recommends that the State party’s reports be made readily available to the public from the time they are submitted and that the Committee’s concluding observations on them be similarly publicized.
The Committee recommends that the State party submit its seventeenth periodic report jointly with its eighteenth periodic report, due on 4 January 2004, and that it address all the points raised in the present observations.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights