This is an extract from the US Department of State 2011 Human Rights Report on Cyprus. It is not usual for these reports to treat Northern Cyprus separately but this one does and there are accounts of people being subjected to torture for refusing to sign statements prepared for them by the police. There is also mention of a Cypriot newspaper publishing such accounts from 2006 onwards.
Cyprus – the area administered by Turkish Cypriots
Since 1974 the southern part of Cyprus has been under the control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus, while the northern part, administered by Turkish Cypriots, proclaimed itself the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”) in 1983. The United States does not recognize the “TRNC,” nor does any country other than Turkey. A substantial number of Turkish troops remained on the island. A buffer zone, or “green line,” patrolled by the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), separates the two parts.
READ A SECTION: REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS | THE AREA ADMINISTERED BY TURKISH CYPRIOTS (BELOW)
Since 1974 the northern part of Cyprus has been run by a Turkish Cypriot administration that proclaimed itself the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”) in 1983. The United States does not recognize the “TRNC,” nor does any country other than Turkey. Dervish Eroglu was elected “president” in 2010 in free and fair elections. Elections to the “Assembly of the Republic” in 2009 were also free and fair and resulted in the formation of a single-party “government” of the UBP (National Unity Party). The “TRNC constitution” is the basis for the “laws” that govern the area administered by Turkish Cypriot “police” and security forces were ultimately under the operational command of the Turkish military, per transitional article 10 of the “TRNC constitution,” which cedes responsibility for public security and defence “temporarily” to Turkey.
The most significant problems reported during the year included police abuse of detainees and infringement on the right of demonstrators to peacefully assemble. In addition, there were restrictions on the rights of asylum seekers and no regulatory infrastructure to handle asylum applications or to protect their rights.
Other problems reported during the year included mistreatment of persons in custody, overcrowding in prisons, lack of separation of incarcerated adults and juveniles, corruption and cronyism in the executive and legislative branches, domestic violence against women, trafficking in persons, and criminalization of same-sex sexual activity between men.
While there were investigations of police abuse cases, no officials were prosecuted or punished. Officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports that authorities or their agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances during the year.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The “law” prohibits such practices; however, there were reports that police abused detainees. The “law” does not refer to “torture,” which falls under the section of the criminal code that deals with assault, violence, and battery.
On May 17, police arrested and detained three men, including an American resident in the north, on burglary charges. The family reported that the American had been beaten by police, and a consul who visited him in prison photographed him with deep contusions and multiple bruises. The accusations were brought to “parliament” by Nicosia “member of parliament” and TDP chairman Mehmet Cakici, who complained that the attending physician who performed a health check on the suspect was complicit because he found that the suspect’s injuries could have been caused by a fall rather than a beating.
On May 31, a newspaper reported that an acquitted child molestation suspect alleged police beat him for two hours and sodomized him with a stick, after which he reportedly required surgery. He filed a complaint with the “attorney general’s” office.
In December a “parliamentary committee” established to investigate allegations of police torture reported that torture has been carried out at police stations. The committee also learned that police and the “attorney general’s office” investigated the complaints and torture allegations and filed a case in “court” based on their findings. The committee studied another 12 petitions from citizens who claimed they were beaten and consulted with the police and the “attorney general’s office” on the cases.
In December Kibrisli newspaper began publishing a series of torture allegations dating from 2006 to the present, based on first-hand accounts. One victim alleged that he was covered with a sack, tortured, beaten, and that electricity was applied to his genitals for seven days after he refused to sign statements prepared by the police. The newspaper published a full statement and photos showing the alleged signs of torture. Another victim alleged that he was beaten so severely he required medical care; the doctor at the hospital reportedly described his wounds as “scratches” and did not give him a health report. The victim claimed that police released him when they understood that he was not guilty. He claimed he filed a complaint with the “attorney general’s” office but had never received a response.
Two police abuse cases filed with the “attorney general” in 2011 were being prepared for a court hearing at the end of the year.
Prison and Detention Centre Conditions
In previous years inmates complained of overcrowding at the prison, but the authorities routinely claimed they had addressed the problem. NGO representatives stated that, while a 2009 bunk-bed system that increased the official bed capacity from 291 to 448 addressed some of the overcrowding problems, health and other services were sorely lacking. Health services were provided to inmates once a week; no health checks were given to prisoners and detainees upon entry into the prison; and inmates lacked regular access to washing water and hot water. Authorities stated that inmates requested a sports facility for the prison but there was no room for such a facility. Of the 293 prisoners held at year’s end, 51 percent were foreigners, mostly Turkish citizens. Ten women prisoners and two juveniles were incarcerated. Approximately 39 percent of the prisoners were awaiting trial.
During the year there were no deaths within the prison or detention centres. Prisoners had access to potable water.
According to the authorities, prisoners and detainees were permitted both to submit complaints to judicial authorities without censorship and to request investigation of credible allegations of inhumane conditions. Authorities reported they did not receive any complaints.
Authorities stated that all prisoners were allowed religious observance. Prisoners with “stern” penalties were allowed to receive visitors every 10 days while prisoners with “light punishment” were allowed to receive visitors every 15 days. Detainees were allowed to receive visitors every 30 days. Visits were limited to 30 minutes except during holidays. Convicted inmates were allowed a maximum of 40 minutes of telephone calls four days a week; detainees were given access to phones three days a week.
The scope of the ombudsman’s duties does not include advocating for reduced or alternative sentences or addressing the status of juvenile prisoners or improving detention/bail conditions.
During the year authorities permitted a prison visit by a group of local journalists and hosted an iftar dinner for the group at the prison, where they were able to meet with inmates and prison employees.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The “law” prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and authorities generally observed these prohibitions.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
Police are responsible for law enforcement. The chief of police reports to a Turkish Cypriot “general,” who is nominally under the supervision of the “Prime Ministry,” holding the “security portfolio.” The police and security forces are ultimately under the operational command of the Turkish military, however, per transitional article 10 of the “TRNC constitution,” which “temporarily” cedes responsibility for public security and defence to Turkey. Security forces were generally cooperative with civilian authorities and effective in matters of law enforcement. The police are divided into eight functional divisions and five geographic divisions.
The “office of the attorney general” continued to work with the inspection division (or occasionally the criminal investigative division) to investigate allegations of police misconduct. Two complaints were filed with and investigated by the “attorney general’s office.” The cases were being prepared for a court hearing at the end of the year.
In 2011 a Turkish Cypriot nearing completion of his two-year mandatory military service wrote an article alleging widespread abuse of soldiers within the military, including physical and psychological abuses.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention
Judicially issued warrants are required for arrests. No person may be detained longer than 24 hours without referral of the case to the courts for a longer period of detention. Authorities generally respected this right in practice. Detainees were usually informed promptly of charges against them, although individuals believed to have committed a violent offense were often held for longer periods without being charged. According to the “law,” any detained person must be brought before a judge within 24 hours. The person can then be detained in police custody for a period of up to three months, but a judge must review the detention after the third day and every eight days thereafter. Bail was permitted and routinely used. Detainees were usually allowed prompt access to family members and a lawyer of their choice. Authorities only provided lawyers to the indigent for cases involving violent offenses. Particularly at the time of arrest, police sometimes did not observe legal protections. Some suspects were not permitted to have their lawyers present when giving testimony, in contravention of the “law.” Suspects who demanded the presence of a lawyer were sometimes threatened with stiffer charges or physically intimidated.
During the year one suspect who claimed he did not know Turkish complained he was forced to sign a confession drafted in Turkish by police. There were numerous allegations of rough treatment or torture by police of prisoners.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The “law” provides for an independent judiciary, and authorities generally respected judicial independence in practice.
Most criminal and civil cases begin in district courts, from which appeals are made to the “Supreme Court.” There were no special courts for political offenses. Civilian courts have jurisdiction in cases where civilians are accused of violating military restrictions, such as filming or photographing military zones.
The “law” provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. The “TRNC constitution” provides for public trials, the defendant’s right to be present at those trials, and the defendant’s right to consult with an attorney in a timely manner. Authorities provide lawyers to indigent defendants only in cases involving violent offenses. Defendants are allowed to question witnesses against them and present evidence and witnesses on their behalf. The “law” also requires that defendants and their attorneys have access to evidence held by the “government” related to their cases. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have a right to appeal. Authorities generally respected these rights in practice.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were were no reports of political prisoners or detainees