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NEWS

Short Update: Asylum seekers in Cyprus detained in crowded camps, with limited access to a lawyer

FairTrialsAdmin - April 27, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates, Access to a lawyer, Access to interpretation services

Cyprus has criminalized failure to comply with the quarantine and orders or restrictive measures to fight the spread of COVID-19 leading to arrests and detention of migrants and asylums seekers. Local lawyers report that migrants do not fully understand the measures as information is mainly provided in Greek. In addition, these measures are practically impossible to implement, because many migrants live in crowded dilapidated premises and moving is impossible due to financial constraints.  

The old city of Nicosia, where the majority of migrants live, is targeted by the police and there have been also arrests and attacks on asylum seekers with the pretext of coronavirus measures. Lawyers also report continued use of detention of asylum seekers for petty crimes such as stealing a bicycle or violating social distancing regulations.   

Asylum seekers are also transferred from places they have been staying to closed refugee camps and/or detention centres. Under COVID-19 orders, nobody is allowed to enter or exit refugee camps, except for camp staff. This means that the asylum seekers are also not allowed to meet with their lawyers arguing for their release from detention. 

It has been reported that a nurse working in Menoyia immigration detention centre have been infected with COVID-19, but instead of testing all migrants it has been decided to move them to other detention camps in an effort to decongest the main detention centre. There is currently a refugee camp with at least 700 persons effectively detained and living in tents with high risk of being infected, but no tests for COVID-19 are being carried out.  

We publish information as it is reported to us. If you would like to make us aware of an inaccuracy or send us more information please email us at [email protected] 

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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