AI Index: EUR 17/10/94

                               Amnesty International
                               International Secretariat
                               1 Easton Street
                               London WC1X 8DJ
                               United Kingdom
                               Tel: (44) (71) 413 5500
                               Fax: (44) (71) 956 1157



This report summarizes Amnesty International's concerns in
Cyprus since the beginning of the 1990s.

    During this period, over 60 men were imprisoned because
of their refusal on conscientious grounds to perform
military service or reservist exercises; allegations of
torture and ill-treatment continued to be received; and the
provision for the use of the death penalty remained in law.


In January 1992 the Cypriot House of Representatives passed
legislation recognizing for the first time in Cyprus the
right to have conscientious objections to military service. 
Although the legislation made provision for alternative
service open to conscientious objectors on ethical, moral,
humanitarian, philosophical, political, as well as
religious grounds, it was out of line with international
standards, including Article 18 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), in a number
of crucial respects.  

    The new legislation (Law 2/92) provides for "unarmed
military service" inside and outside military camps.  Those
who choose unarmed service without military uniform and
outside the military camps have to serve 42 months; those
who choose unarmed service wearing military uniform, inside
a military area but without the obligation of carrying a
weapon, have to serve 34 months.  In both above cases the
length of the unarmed service (42 or 34 months as against
the 26 months of ordinary military service) remains
punitive. Conscientious objectors have also to perform
supplementary service equivalent to periods of reservist
exercises (lasting from several days to several weeks) at
regular intervals until the age of 50. The right to
transfer to alternative service from military service is
suspended during periods of emergency or general

    Soon after the legislation was passed, Amnesty
International urged the former government to bring the new
legislation on conscientious objection into line with
international standards. In March 1992 former President
George Vassiliou informed Amnesty International that the
authorities did not consider the length of the alternative
service to be punitive, especially given current relations
with Turkey and the occupation of part of the island by
Turkish armed forces, nor would they permit people who
developed conscientious objections during periods of
emergency or mobilization to switch to alternative civilian

    According to the most recent information available to
Amnesty International, it is necessary for those called up
for military service to enlist in the armed forces before
they may apply to perform alternative service. This
procedure would be unacceptable to most conscientious
objectors and as far as Amnesty International knows, no one
in Cyprus has yet applied for recognition as a
conscientious objector under the new legislation.  By mid-
1992 convictions had resumed at their previous rate with
conscientious objectors being sentenced to longer terms of
imprisonment than ever.  

    As of June 1994, four conscientious objectors (all of
them Jehovah's Witnesses) are serving prison sentences of
up to one year and another five are facing trial. Two
conscientious objectors, Nikos Alekou Paisis and Sotiris
Anastasiadis, were released in the first week of June after
serving sentences of eight and two months respectively.

    On 13 April 1994, conscientious objector Omiros Andreou
Constantinou, a 38-year-old father of four children, was
sentenced by Nicosia Military Court to six months'
imprisonment for refusing to perform compulsory military
service.  This is his fourth term of imprisonment, bringing
the total length of his imprisonment to 20 months, as he
has already served a three-month sentence in 1983-84, a
nine-month sentence in 1984 and a two-month sentence in
1991. He appealed against his sentence. The appeal will be
heard on 22 June 1994.

    On 20 May 1994, 36-year-old conscientious objector
Christakis Andrea Trisokka was sentenced by Nicosia
Military Court to one year's imprisonment for refusing to
perform military service.  This is his second term of
imprisonment, bringing the total length of his imprisonment
to 26 months, as he had already served a 14-month sentence
in 1983. The same day conscientious objector Christakis
Christophorou, a 33-year-old father of two children, was
sentenced by Nicosia Military Court to three months'
imprisonment for refusing to perform military reservist

    On 30 May 1994, 25-year-old conscientious objector
Pelopidas Georgiou Nikolaou was sentenced by Nicosia
Military Court to six months' imprisonment for refusing to
perform military reservist exercises. This is his second
term of imprisonment as he had already been sentenced to
two months' imprisonment on 29 September 1992.

    All these men are Jehovah's Witnesses, whose religion
does not permit them to serve in the armed forces in any
capacity. They are currently serving their sentences. When
they are released, Omiros Andreou Constantinou, Christakis
Andrea Trisokka, Christakis Christophorou and Pelopidas
Georgiou Nikolaou will probably be called up again.  Upon
refusing once again to perform military service or
reservist exercises they are likely to face yet a further
term of imprisonment.  

    On 13 June 1994, Andreas Ioanni Demetriou, a father of
four children, will be tried for refusing to perform
reservist military exercises. 

    On 1 July 1994, 20-year-old Loukas Andreou Hatzipanayis
will be tried for refusing to perform military service. If
he is convicted and imprisoned this will be his second term
of imprisonment for the same offence. 

    The same day, after two postponements of his trial, 53-
year-old Theocharis Theokli Theocharidis is once again due
to appear in court for refusing to perform reservist
military exercises. If he is convicted this will be his
second term of imprisonment as he served a two-month prison
sentence in June 1991. He was also fined in November 1991
and given a three-month suspended sentence in January 1992
for the same offence. Although Amnesty International has
been informed by the Ministry of Defence that a previous
application for release from military obligations on health
grounds was rejected, the organization has been informed
that he has very poor eyesight and a bad heart condition,
which it believes should be strong grounds for exemption
from any military obligation. 

    On 5 July 1994, Iosif Costa Kourides is due to be tried
for refusing to perform military service. If he is
convicted and imprisoned this will be his second term of
imprisonment for the same offence, as he was previously
sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment on  21 December 1992.

    On 13 July 1994, 19-year-old Christos Panikou
Christophy is due to be tried for refusing to perform
military service. This will be his first trial.

International standards and recommendations on
conscientious objection

Cyprus is a member of the Council of Europe and the United
Nations (UN) and a participating state in the Conference on
Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE).  These bodies,
as well as the Human Rights Committee, a body of experts
under the UN which monitors implementation of the ICCPR,
have adopted the following standards and recommendations,
all of which urge member states to recognize the right to
conscientious objection and adjust their national
legislation to make provision for alternative civilian

i)   The United Nations Commission on Human Rights:
Resolution 1989/59, which was reaffirmed in 1991
(Resolution 1991/65), recognizes 

    "the right of everyone to have conscientious objections
    to military service as a legitimate exercise of the
    right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as
    laid down in article 18 of the Universal Declaration of
    Human Rights as well as article 18 of the International
    Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". 

and recommends that Member States provide alternative

    "in principle of a non-combatant or civilian character,
    in the public interest and not of a punitive nature".

ii) Human Rights Committee: Paragraph 11 of General Comment
22 states:

    "Many individuals have claimed the right to refuse to
    perform military service (conscientious objection) on
    the basis that such right derives from their freedoms
    under article 18. In response to such claims, a growing
    number of States have in their laws exempted from
    compulsory military service citizens who genuinely hold
    religious or other beliefs that forbid the performance
    of military service and replaced it with an alternative
    national service. The Covenant does not explicitly
    refer to a right of conscientious objection, but the
    Committee believes that such a right can be derived
    from article 18, inasmuch as the obligation to use
    lethal force may seriously conflict with the freedom of
    conscience and the right to manifest one's religion or
    belief. When this right is recognized by law or
    practice, there shall be no differentiation among
    conscientious objectors on the nature of their
    particular beliefs; likewise, there shall be no
    discrimination against conscientious objectors because
    they have failed to perform military service. The
    Committee invites States parties to report on the
    conditions under which persons can be exempted from
    military service on the basis of their rights under
    article 18 and on the nature and length of alternative
    national service."

iii) Council of Europe: Recommendation No. R (87) 8 of the
Committee of Ministers to Member States Regarding
Conscientious Objection to Compulsory Military Service,
recommends that governments of member states make provision
in their legislation for conscientious objectors to have
the right to perform alternative service which is not of a
punitive nature. However, the Cypriot Government has
reserved the right not to comply with the recommendation in
paragraph 9 that alternative service 

    "shall be in principle civilian and in the public

iv)  At the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the
Human Dimension of the CSCE in 1990 the participating
States of the Conference, which included Cyprus, noted that
the UN Commission on Human Rights had recognized the right
of everyone to have conscientious objections to military
service and agreed to consider introducing, where this had
not yet been done, various forms of alternative civilian
service in the public interest and of a non-punitive

Amnesty International's recommendations to the Cypriot

Amnesty International is calling on the Cypriot authorities

    Release immediately and unconditionally all
    conscientious objectors currently detained in Cyprus;

    Ensure that, in line with international
    recommendations, provision is made for an alternative
    service which is of non-punitive length;

    Ensure that provision is made for reservists and
    serving conscripts to have the opportunity to perform
    such a service during periods of emergency or general

    In accordance with international standards,
    conscientious objectors should be able to perform an
    alternative civilian service which is not of punitive
    length and should not have to enlist in the armed
    forces in order to apply for conscientious objector
    status. Military service which takes place outside a
    military camp would be unacceptable to most
    conscientious objectors. 

In the past four years, several detainees in police
detention have alleged they had been tortured or ill-
treated. The Cypriot Government's initial report to the UN
Committee against Torture, due in August 1992, had not been
received as of June 1994.

    In December 1990, Michalis Loukas was reportedly
tortured by police in Limassol after he had failed to
produce adequate identification papers and had been taken
to the police station to have his identity checked. There
he was reportedly kneed in the groin, punched in the head
and face, slapped and had his hair pulled. He was also
allegedly held by the throat and pushed against a wall, so
that he had difficulty breathing, and hit on the ears,
which caused loss of hearing in his left ear. Michalis
Loukas was subsequently taken to hospital where a
perforated left ear drum, bruising around the eyes, slight
haemorrhaging in the eyes, concussion and damage to his
balance mechanism were recorded among other injuries. He
reportedly had to undergo an operation in order to save his
hearing. An investigation was carried out into his
allegations by the Complaints Board which concluded that
they were broadly true, although exaggerated on some
points. The Board rejected police claims that they had not
ill-treated Michalis Loukas. The Board's findings are said
to have been submitted to the Minister of the Interior. No
further information has been made available in response to
Amnesty International's inquiries. 

    Mehmet Canbulut, a Turkish Cypriot, was allegedly
threatened, slapped, punched, beaten on the soles of his
feet (falaka), burned with a cigarette and verbally abused
by members of the Special Branch of the police in April
1992 after going to report his arrival in the Republic from
the northern part of the island (under the control of the
Turkish armed forces and the Turkish Cypriot
administration). The Attorney General reportedly rejected
a complaint on his behalf saying that according to
information submitted by the police, it could not be
substantiated. In October 1992, Amnesty International wrote
to the then Minister of Interior asking to be informed in
full of the methods and findings of the police
investigation upon which the Attorney General based his
conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to
substantiate the allegations. No answer has been received.

    In July 1992 Dimos Dimosthenous, a 31-year-old father
of four children, mistakenly detained by police in Limassol
for a bank robbery, said four or five police officers
blindfolded him; beat him all over; gave him electric
shocks; subjected him to death threats; hung him upside
down and subjected him to the telephono (hit him on both
ears at the same time). Following an investigation, in
October 1992 two police officers were indicted for trial
and charged with torture. Despite acknowledging that Dimos
Dimosthenous suffered injuries while in police custody, the
court ruled in July 1993 that the two police officers were
not guilty of assault, stating that the prosecution had
failed to establish conclusively that the two officers were
actually responsible. The case was dismissed for
insufficient evidence.  In 1994 Dimos Dimothenous' lawyer
lodged an application against the Republic of Cyprus for
violation of Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on
Human Rights, to which Cyprus is a State Party. However, by
June 1994, no decision on admissibility had yet been taken.
    According to articles in the newspapers Cyprus Weekly
and To Vima of 10 June 1994, four policemen severely kicked
and beat 56-year-old Lycourgos Vassiliou from Larnaka on 2
September 1993, after having pushed him onto the ground. 
As a result he was sent to hospital suffering from broken
ribs and requiring stitches. Despite evidence, recorded on
a videotape and shown on the television news, the Assize
Court of Larnaka acquitted the four policemen of causing
actual bodily harm and ruled that the evidence against them
was "fabricated, false and unreliable". The President of
the court stated that the film sequence in question had not
been produced as evidence by the prosecution, and thus
could not be taken into account by the three judges. The
four policemen had previously been found not guilty of two
other charges of causing grievous bodily harm to Lycourgos
Vassiliou. The ruling admitted that Lycourgos Vassiliou had
suffered bodily harm on the morning of 2 September 1993 but
noted that the only substantial prosecution witness,
Vassiliou himself, has not said clearly and with certainty
that the four police officers who beat him up were indeed
the four defendants, with the exception of one whom he
knew. According to press articles published at the time,
Lycourgos Vassiliou and one of the police officers were
allegedly sworn enemies.  

The Cypriot Constitution

    The Cypriot Constitution specifically prohibits
torture. Article 8 of the constitution states: 

    "No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman
    or degrading punishment or treatment."

    In December 1993, Parliament officially recognized as
a Law (35 (III)/93), the amendments of the Law 24/89
ratifying the Convention against Torture, and Other  Cruel
Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

International Standards on Torture and Ill-Treatment

    In July 1991 Cyprus ratified the United Nations
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against

    It ratified the European Convention for the Prevention
of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
on 3 April 1989, including Article 3 which states:  
    "No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or
    degrading treatment or punishment."

    It ratified in April 1969 the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 7 of which
states that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." and
ratified the First Optional Protocol to ICCPR in April

    It has ratified the European Convention on Human
Rights, including Article 46 which recognizes as compulsory
the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in
all matters concerning interpretation and application of
the European Convention.

    Both the Convention against Torture and the ICCPR
impose a duty to investigate complaints of torture. Article
13 of the Convention against Torture states: 

    "Each State Party shall ensure any individual who
    alleges he has been subjected of torture in any
    territory under its jurisdiction his the right to
    complain to, and to have his case promptly and
    impartially examined by, its competent authorities.
    Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant and
    witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or
    intimidation as a consequence of his complaint or any
    evidence given." 

Article 12 requires an investigation of well founded
reports even if there has been no formal complaint: 

    "Each State Party shall ensure that its competent
    authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial
    investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to
    believe that an act of torture has been committed in
    any territory under its jurisdiction."

    The Human Rights Committee, in General Comment 20 has
explained that under Article 7 of the ICCPR:

    "Complaints must be investigated promptly and
    impartially by the competent authorities so as to make
    the remedy effective."

    In addition the Convention against Torture requires the
authorities to compensate and rehabilitate the victims of
torture (Article 14):

    " Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system
    that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress
    and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate
    compensation, including the means for as full
    rehabilitation as possible..."


    "Nothing in this article shall affect any right of the
    victim or other persons to compensation which may exist
    under national law." 

and to bring to justice those responsible (Article 7 (1)): 

    "the State Party  in the territory under whose
    jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any
    offence referred to in article 4 [acts of torture or
    attempt to commit torture and to complicity or
    participation in torture] is found shall...if it does
    not extradite him, submit the case to its competent
    authorities for the purpose of prosecution."

Amnesty International's recommendations to the Cypriot

    Take all appropriate steps to ensure that the
    prohibition of torture contained in the Cypriot
    Constitution and international standards to which
    Cyprus is a party is respected.

    Institute impartial investigations into allegations of
    torture and ill-treatment with a view to bringing to
    justice those responsible, in line with Cyprus'
    international obligations including the Convention
    against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
    Treatment or Punishment.

    Ensure that the methods and findings of such
    investigations should be made public. Complainants and
    witnesses should be protected from intimidation.


On 15 December 1983 the Council of Ministers voted in
favour of the abolition of the death penalty for
premeditated murder and its replacement with life
imprisonment (Criminal Code [Amendment] Law 1983). 

    Although Cyprus is de facto abolitionist, the country's
Criminal Code retains the use of death penalty for
exceptional crimes such as treason (Section 36),
instigating invasion (Section 37) and piracy with violence
(Section 69). Death sentences for offences under the
ordinary criminal code may be imposed by the Assize Court.
Under the Military Criminal Code, certain offenses against
the State are punishable with death and death sentences may
be imposed by the Military Court. Appeals against death
sentences are passed by either court to the Supreme Court.
The death penalty may not be imposed on pregnant women or
children under the age of 16 when the crime was committed.
Cyprus permits the execution of minors in violation of
Article 6(5) of the ICCPR.

    Both the President and the Vice-President have the
right to exercise the prerogative of mercy, which allows
them to commute death sentences to life imprisonment. The
last execution was carried out by hanging in June 1962.

International Recommendations on death penalty

Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR aiming at the abolition
of the death penalty.

Article 6(5) of the ICCPR which states that: 

    "Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes
    committed by persons below eighteen years of age and
    shall not be carried out on pregnant women."

Protocol No 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights
concerning the abolition of the death penalty which states

    "The death penalty shall be abolished. No one shall be
    condemned to such penalty or executed."

Amnesty International's recommendations to the Cypriot

-   abolish the death penalty in law for all offences in
peace time or in time of war.

-   Become a party to the Second Optional Protocol of the
    ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty and
    to Protocol No 6 of the European Convention on Human