In general, the police forces of both sides accord respect to the rule of law. There is little crime in Cyprus, and consequently relatively few arrests occur.
Both Cypriot economies operate on the basis of free market principles, although in both communities there are significant state-run enterprises. In the Greek Cypriot economy, increases in tourism and exports are expected to lead to a growth rate of about 4.6 percent, more than double the 1993 rate. The Turkish Cypriot economy relies heavily upon subsidies from Turkey and is burdened by an overly large public sector. Inflation remains a significant problem, exceeding 100 percent in 1994, and the economy is expected to experience net negative growth for 1994.
Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot authorities generally accord a high degree of respect to established human rights norms and practices. Nonetheless, in the Greek Cypriot community there were instances of police brutality, including beating and expulsion of Turkish Cypriots by Greek Cypriot police. Domestic violence is also receiving increased attention as a legal and social issue in both communities, rather than as a purely personal or cultural matter.
Significant problem areas include continuing restrictions imposed by Turkish Cypriot authorities on the right of Turkish Cypriots to travel to the southern part of the island and Turkish Cypriot noncompliance with the terms of the 1975 Vienna-III Agreement which set forth the rights of Greek Cypriots remaining in areas under Turkish Cypriot control.
In July defense attorneys for two Greek Cypriot youths charged with armed robbery claimed that their clients had been beaten in police custody. There has been no independent verification that the police in fact committed the beatings.
In another instance, lawyers for a 31-year-old man, whom police mistakenly took into custody on suspicion of bank robbery and then allegedly tortured, filed an application, which is still awaiting action, against the Republic of Cyprus on the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights. Two policemen accused in the case were acquitted in July 1993 after the courts ruled that the suspect had in fact been beaten in police custody but had been mistaken in his identification of the two officers responsible. According to some independent observers, the alibis the police officers produced appeared credible.
A 1993 bill introduced in the Cyprus Parliament addressing police brutality is still under consideration. The bill would provide for, among other things, detention of the accused in cells not under direct police control, medical examination of detainees immediately upon arrest, and severe penalties for law enforcement officials convicted of violating these provisions. In December a parliamentary subcommittee voted to broaden the jurisdiction of the official Ombudsman to look into allegations of police brutality.
While there were no public allegations or media reports of police brutality in the Turkish Cypriot community, credible reports indicate that there were some instances of police brutality.
Exile is specifically prohibited by the Greek Cypriot Constitution and by the basic law governing the Turkish Cypriot community.
On the Turkish Cypriot side, civilians deemed to have violated military zones are subject to trial in a military court. These courts consist of one military and two civilian judges and a civilian prosecutor. Defendants in military courts have all the due process rights available in civilian courts. There were no trials of civilians in military courts in 1994.
There are no political prisoners in Cyprus.
Several private television and radio stations in the Greek Cypriot community compete effectively with the government- controlled stations. Turkish Cypriot authorities retain a monopoly over local radio and television, which tend not to criticize them. By June 1994, permission had been given for the operation of two university-run radio stations in Nicosia and Famagusta. However, the permission granted was temporary, and the radio stations remained under the control of the Turkish Cypriot radio and television authorities. International broadcasts are available without interference throughout the island, including telecasts from Turkey and Greece.
Both Turkish Cypriots residing in the southern part of the island and non-Muslims in the north are allowed to practice their religion freely. However, a major Greek Cypriot holy site located in the Turkish Cypriot-controlled area, the monastery at Apostolos Andreas, may only be visited under existing regulations twice a year, despite the Vienna-III Agreements of 1975 guaranteeing freedom of movement for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who elected to remain in areas controlled by the other community. In November the Turkish Cypriot authorities permitted an elderly priest and a companion resident in the government-controlled area to conduct services at Apostolos Andreas on the Saint's name day, fulfilling a longstanding desire of the priest to visit his ancestral home.
The applications of Greek Cypriot residents of enclaves in the north to visit the government-controlled area are usually granted, but the applicants must return within a designated period or risk losing their right to return, as well as their property. Turkish Cypriot authorities usually deny requests for Greek Cypriot children over the age of 16 (male) and 18 (female) residing in the government-controlled area to visit their parents in the Karpass. Requests by other relatives are also generally denied. However, in December the Turkish Cypriot authorities granted permits to all 30 children who had requested them regardless of age. In addition, they granted permits for the first time to nine grandchildren resident in the government-controlled area to visit their Greek Cypriot grandparents in the Karpass Peninsula. Without prior permission, the Turkish Cypriot authorities also generally bar Greeks, Greek Cypriots, and even third-country nationals with Greek or Armenian surnames from entering the territory under their control.
The Greek Cypriot authorities permit only day travel by tourists to the northern part of the island. The Greek Cypriot authorities have declared that it is illegal to enter Cyprus except at authorized entry points in the south, effectively barring entry into the Greek Cypriot area by foreigners who have entered Cyprus from the north. Similarly authorities bar entry to the north by those intending to depart by this route. Following the March assassination, allegedly by Turkish agents, of the Director of a Greek Cypriot association supporting Kurds in Turkey, the Greek Cypriot authorities placed significantly tighter controls on the movement of Turkish Cypriots to the Greek Cypriot-controlled areas. Institutions and individuals sponsoring visits of Turkish Cypriots to the Greek Cypriot- controlled areas must notify the Greek Cypriot police in advance and provide them with an exact itinerary.
The authorities respect the right to travel abroad and to emigrate. Turkish Cypriots have difficulty traveling to most countries because travel documents issued by the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" are recognized only by Turkey. Most Turkish Cypriots resort to utilizing Turkish travel documents instead.
The Government of Cyprus does not accept third-country refugees for resettlement in Cyprus on the grounds that it already has enough responsibilities in caring for those displaced after the 1974 Turkish intervention. All refugee and asylum claimants are referred to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which considers their applications. The Government has been cooperative in extending residency permission to those with pending applications and does not generally repatriate claimants to their home country. There has been no resettlement of displaced Cypriots.
The Turkish Cypriots elect a leader and a representative body every 5 years or less. The Turkish Cypriot voters went to the polls on December 12, 1993, in an early election that brought opposition party representatives back into power and resulted in a new coalition. Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north are barred by law from participating in Turkish Cypriot elections but may choose their own village officials. They are eligible to vote in Greek Cypriot elections but must travel to the south to exercise that right.
In both communities, women hold cabinet-level and other senior positions. In the Turkish Cypriot sector, the Supreme Court swore in its first female judge.
There are no restrictions preventing the formation of human rights groups, and representatives of international human rights organizations have access throughout the island.
The Government of Cyprus, which claims a number of Greek Cypriots missing during the conflict of 1974, is still in the process of submitting its outstanding cases to the United Nations Committee on Missing Persons, although the rate of presentation accelerated over the first 6 months of 1994. For their part, Turkish Cypriot authorities, who claim their own missing persons dating from the intercommunal violence beginning in l963, have submitted virtually all of their cases to the U.N. Committee.
There are reports of spouse abuse, and the problem is believed to be significant. Throughout the island, a growing awareness of domestic violence has led to attempts to pass laws to safeguard the rights of abused spouses. In the Greek Cypriot community, a law enacted in July makes it easier for abused spouses to make complaints to the police, broadens the categories of evidence admissible in hearings on domestic violence, and establishes a "family adviser," both to monitor court cases and to facilitate counseling for the offender. It is widely thought that many suspected cases of domestic violence do not reach the courts, largely because of family pressure and the wife's economic dependence on her husband. An organization formed to address the problem of domestic abuse reports an increasing number of daily calls over its hot line, although hard statistics are not available. Of the relatively small portion of cases that are tried in the courts, virtually none results in conviction: Only 1 conviction was obtained in the nearly 300 spouse abuse cases brought before the courts in 1994.
In the Greek Cypriot community, women face discrimination that denies them the ability to pass on citizenship to their children if they are married to foreign spouses. Under existing Cypriot law, only a Greek Cypriot father may transmit citizenship to his children automatically or obtain expeditious naturalization for his foreign spouse.
In the Turkish Cypriot community, efforts have focused on improving the status of women in divorce proceedings, particularly regarding the rights of women to obtain property acquired during the period of marriage. In general, divorce is difficult for either party to obtain unless it is uncontested.
The Greek Cypriot community continues to focus on trafficking in female prostitutes, and Parliament has held several hearings on the subject. While international trafficking in women, mostly from Eastern Europe or the Far East, has diminished because most of these women can now travel directly to their final destinations rather than through Cyprus, they continue to be brought as "cabaret artistes" into Cyprus. The "artistes" are sponsored by the cabaret owners or by agents. However, to date there have been few arrests since the women, fearing retaliation by their employers, generally do not bring charges. Forcing women into prostitution is against Republic of Cyprus law.
There have been repeated credible reports that women from the Far East, working in Cyprus as maids, have been forced to work under inhumane circumstances. For example, they have been deprived of their passports and of their right to take Sundays off, and in some instances they have not been paid. These women generally do not file complaints.
In the Turkish Cypriot community, union officials have alleged that various firms have been successful in establishing "company" organizations and then applying pressure on workers to join these unions. Officials of independent labor unions have also accused the Turkish Cypriot authorities of creating rival public sector unions to weaken the independent unions. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has not yet acted upon these complaints. There are no complaints outstanding against the Government of Cyprus.
In both communities, trade unions freely and regularly take stands on public policy issues affecting workers and maintain their independence from the Government. Two of the major trade unions, one in each community, are closely affiliated with political parties. Both of the remaining major unions are independent.
All workers have the right to strike, and several strikes, usually of short duration, took place in 1994. In the northern part of the island, however, a court ruling from 1978 gives employers an unrestricted right to hire replacement workers in the event of a strike, effectively limiting the effectiveness of the right to strike. Authorities of both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities have the power to curtail strikes in what they deem to be "essential services," although this right is rarely used.
Unions in both parts of Cyprus are able to affiliate with international trade union organizations.
In the Turkish Cypriot community, where inflation exceeded 100 percent over the year, wage levels are reviewed twice a year for the private sector and six times a year for public sector workers and a corresponding cost-of-living raise is established. A special commission composed of five representatives each from organized labor, employers, and the authorities conducts the review. Union leaders contend that private sector employers are able to discourage union activity because enforcement of labor and occupational safety regulations is sporadic and penalties for antiunion practices are minimal. As in the Greek Cypriot community, parties to a dispute may request mediation by the authorities.
Small export processing zones exist in Larnaca Port and Famagusta, but the laws governing working conditions and actual practice are uniform throughout the country.
The legislated minimum wage in the Turkish Cypriot area, while subject to frequent review because of high levels of inflation, is approximately $90 per month at exchange rates as of mid-1994. This amount is not adequate to support a worker and family, although most workers earn more than the minimum wage.
A significant percentage of the labor force consists of illegal workers, mostly from Turkey. According to some estimates, illegal workers constitute as much as 25 percent of the total work force in the area under Turkish Cypriot control. There are frequent allegations that such workers are subject to mistreatment, including nonpayment of wages and threats of deportation.
In the Greek Cypriot community, the standard workweek is an average of 39 1/2 hours in the private sector. In the public sector, it is 37 1/2 hours during the winter and 35 hours in the summer. In 1992, however, Greek Cypriot unions won concessions that will reduce the workweek by one-half hour per year until 1997 when a 38-hour workweek will be in place for most sectors of the economy. In the Turkish Cypriot community, the standard workweek is 38 hours in winter and 36 hours in summer. Government labor inspectors effectively enforce these laws.
Greek Cypriot labor union leaders have complained that occupational and safety standards lack important safeguards. Factories are typically licensed by municipalities rather than by the Government, resulting in an uneven application of environmental and work safeguards. Under a proposed law, Cypriot occupational and safety standards will be brought up to ILO- and European Union-mandated standards, including protection of workers who refuse to work because of unsafe conditions. While the law was not enacted in 1994, virtually all key participants in the decision supported the bill.
Occupational safety and health regulations are administered at best sporadically in the Turkish Cypriot area. In both areas, a factory inspector processes complaints and inspects business in order to ensure that occupational safety laws are observed. Turkish Cypriot workers who file complaints do not receive satisfactory legal protection and may face dismissal.