Human rights in Northern Cyprus

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This article is about human rights in Northern Cyprus. For for human rights in the Republic of Cyprus, see Human rights in Cyprus.

Human rights in Northern Cyprus are protected by the constitution of Northern Cyprus.[1] However, there have been reports of violations of the human rights of minorities, democratic freedom, freedom from discrimination, freedom from torture, freedom of movement, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, right to education, right to life, right to property, and the rights of displaced persons. The rights of Greek-Cypriots displaced by the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, notably their rights to property and right of return, is one of the focal points of ongoing negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus question.

On 5 May 1994, the United Nations, International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Segregation (CERD), in its consideration of reports submitted by states parties under Article 9 of the convention reported:

"Since the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of about 37 per cent of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, Turkey has been engaged in practices of ethnic cleansing, racial separation and racial discrimination contrary to the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as well as to all international instruments in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms."[2]

According to a United States Department of State Country Report of 2001, human rights were generally respected, although problems existed in terms of police activities, and the restriction of movement.[3] In January 2011, The Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the question of Human Rights in Cyprus noted that the ongoing division of Cyprus continues to affect human rights throughout the island "... including freedom of movement, human rights pertaining to the question of missing persons, discrimination, the right to life, freedom of religion, and economic, social and cultural rights."[4]

Freedoms[edit]

Democratic freedom[edit]

Freedom House has classified the perceived level of democratic and political freedom in Northern Cyprus as "free" since 2000 in its Freedom in the World report.[5] In January 2014, Freedom House again classified Northern Cyprus as "free" in both political rights and civil liberties.[6]

In January 2009, the Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation reported that: "Greek Cypriots and Maronite residents [of Northern Cyprus] are prohibited from participating in Turkish Cypriot "national" elections."[7] The US Department of State also recorded that "Greek Cypriots and Maronite residents were prohibited from participating in Turkish Cypriot "national" elections; they were eligible to vote in Greek Cypriot elections but had to travel to the government-controlled area to exercise that right."[8] It also reported that the elections in Northern Cyprus in 2009 and 2010 were free and fair and that "authorities did not restrict the political opposition, and membership or non-membership in the dominant party did not confer formal advantages or disadvantages".[8]

Freedom from discrimination[edit]

On 5 May 1994, the United Nations, International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Segregation (CERD), in its consideration of reports submitted by states parties under Article 9 of the convention, and quoting the European Commission of Human Rights, made it very clear that the Republic of Turkey enforces a policy of segregation in Northern Cyprus violating the human rights of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots:

"Moreover, Turkey has been systematically enforcing in the occupied part of Cyprus a policy of racial segregation, thus flagrantly violating relevant international law relating to human rights. The victims of such violations are both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots ... The European Commission of Human Rights found that "violations of a number of Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights were exclusively directed against members of the two communities in Cyprus, namely the Greek Cypriot community and the Turkish Cypriot community" and it concluded that Turkey has thus failed to secure the rights and freedoms set forth in these articles without discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin, race and religion ..."[2]

Freedom from torture[edit]

In January 2009, the Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation (TCHRF), acknowledged that: "Torture and inhuman treatment cases by the police are frequently reported and lawyers and the TCHRF are pressing authorities to truly investigate them."[7]

Freedom of movement[edit]

On 5 May 1994, the United Nations, International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Segregation (CERD), in its consideration of reports submitted by states parties under Article 9 of the convention noted:

"Restrictions of movement. The Greek Cypriots enclaved are restricted to their villages and immediate surroundings. For any movement outside their villages they have to submit an "application" and seek special permission from the occupation regime. Inhuman restrictions also continue to be imposed concerning temporary visits of the enclaved to the Government-controlled areas."[2]

Furthermore, CERD acknowledged that there were restrictions in UNFICYP movements and that the United Nations peace-keeping Force in Cyprus was fully entitled to "free access to Greek Cypriot villages and habitations" under the Vienna III Agreement.[2]

"The Secretary-General, in his report to the Security Council dated 30 November 1991 (S/24050), stated: "... on a number of occasions UNFICYP was impeded ... while conducting humanitarian tasks in support of Greek Cypriots in the north. Access to the Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas peninsula by UNFICYP humanitarian staff and civilian police was on several occasions denied ... uninterrupted freedom of movement in carrying out its established and important humanitarian duties and responsibilities" ..."[2]

Freedom of religion[edit]

The constitution of Northern Cyprus protects the freedom of religion, and it states that Northern Cyprus is a secular state.[9] The US Department of State report in 2002 stated that religious freedom was protected by law in Northern Cyprus and the government generally respected the freedom of religion.[10] The freedom of religion report in 2007 by US Department of State also stated that "Turkish Cypriot authorities generally respected this right in practice" and the practice of religion was generally free.[11] In 2009, Minority Rights Group International also reported that Turkish Cypriot authorities respected religious freedom in general.[12]

On 27 January 2011, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in written declaration no. 467, condemned the: "Interruption of the Christmas mass in the northern occupied part of Cyprus by Turkish troops and restrictions to the right to freedom of religion and worship."[13] Where it was noted that Turkish troops forced the priest conducting the service at Agios Synesios, in Rizokarpaso, to remove his vestments and ordered everybody to leave the church thus violating the European Convention on Human Rights.[13][14]

Freedom of speech and of the press[edit]

On 6 July 1996, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that, Kutlu Adali, a journalist of the newspaper Yeni Duzen, was fatally shot outside his home. He had criticised the government's immigration policies.[15] Adali's wife went to court at the European Court of Human Rights as a result of the failure of the Northern Cyprus authorities to investigate her husband's murder adequately.[16]

The US Department of State report in 2002 stated that freedom of speech and press was generally respected in Northern Cyprus and there were opposition newspapers which often criticized the government.[10]

World Press Freedom Index 2010 ranked Cyprus and Northern Cyprus 45 and 61 respectively.[17] Also, in 2010, the US Department of State reported that the freedom of press was again generally respected, there were no restrictions on the internet, and the independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction.[8]

In April 2011, the International News Safety Institute reported that, Mutlu Esendemir, the news editor for the Turkish-Cypriot television channel Kanal T, and a reporter for the Turkish-language newspaper Kıbrıs, were both injured in a car bomb.[18] Esendemir was convinced that the attack was related to articles concerning town planning issues in Kyrenia.[18] Kemal Darbaz, the president of Basin Sen, the journalist association, noted that attacks against journalists had become more common.[18]

Rights[edit]

Right to education[edit]

In March 1994, the British Parliament announced "Early day motion 734" concerning Eleni Foka, an elementary school teacher, from enclaved Rizokarpaso:

"That this House urges Her Majesty's Government, as a guarantor power in Cyprus, to take steps in order to ensure the safety of Eleni Foka, one of only three elementary school teachers of the enclaved Greek Cypriot children of Karpasia, following the recent remarks by the leader of the illegally occupied surrounding territory, ... condemns ... any other action which may be intended to drive the people of the enclave from their homes in breach of the 3rd Vienna Agreement which provides for the people of Karpasia the basic human right of safety in their own village."[19]

In 1999, the only Maronite Cypriot primary school in Northern Cyprus, located in Kormakitis, had to close down, due to the lack of pupils.[20]

In May 2001, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) pointed out that Turkey had ignored its earlier rulings concerning the right to education.[21] The ECHR also highlighted, amongst other violations, the following two that were directly relevant to the right to education, where the second summarily describes what Rizokarpaso primary school teachers (and their families) were subjected to:

"... violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education) in respect of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus in so far as no appropriate secondary-school facilities were available to them; ... violation of Article 3 in that the Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas area of northern Cyprus had been subjected to discrimination amounting to degrading treatment;" [21]

Moreover, the ECHR noted the censorship of school books and the denial of secondary school education to the enclaved. The ECHR called on the Turkish authorities to stop censoring Greek language textbooks and informed them that the closure of Greek-language schools was a denial of the right to education.[21]

In 2003, the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Cyprus noted in its report that the primary school at Rizokarpasso was the only Greek Cypriot primary school in Northern Cyprus and that it had three teachers and twenty-five students.[22] On 1 September 2003, at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, during "One minute speeches on matters of political importance", two European MEPs raised their concern about the expulsion, by local authorities, of two Rizokarpaso Primary School teachers (Alexia and Grigoris Koukotsikas) together with their children.[23]

The restrictions of the enclaved were highlighted in an earlier report, by the United Nations, called "Continuing concern for the enclaved Greek Cypriots in the occupied areas":

"... the U.N. Secretary-General in his report on December 1995 stated that Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the occupied area were "the object of very severe restrictions which curtailed the exercise of many basic freedoms and had the effect of ensuring that, inexorably with the passage of time these communities would cease to exist in the northern part of the island."[24]

During the 2004/5 school year, a gymnasium, adding to the only Greek Cypriot primary school in Northern Cyprus, was opened for the Greek Cypriot community in Rizokarpaso, this was the first Greek Cypriot community secondary school available to the community since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.[25][25][26]

In 2008, the Cypriot Financial Mirror newspaper has recorded that, the government of Northern Cyprus had prevented schoolteachers from returning to the primary school in Rizokarpaso.[27]

In 2010, US Department of State reported that "there were no recorded cases of official or societal discrimination based on [...] access to education".[8]

Right to life[edit]

On 14 August 1996, during a protest at the United Nations Buffer Zone, Solomos Solomou, a Greek Cypriot refugee, was shot and killed while climbing a flagpole in order to remove a Turkish flag.[28][29] The incident occurred only a few days after the funeral of his cousin Tassos Isaac, who was murdered a few days earlier, by Turkish nationalists belonging to the militant Grey Wolves organization, during an earlier protest.[30]

On 22 November 2005, concerning the chamber judgment of Kakoulli v. Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights:

"The Court held, unanimously, that there had been:

· a violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the killing of the applicants’ relative by a Turkish soldier in the buffer zone between northern and southern Cyprus;

· a violation of Article 2 concerning the inadequate investigation into his death ..."[31]

Furthermore, in January 2011, The Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the question of Human Rights in Cyprus noted that:

"The case of Andreou v. Turkey (45653/99) concerns an unjustified killing in the area of the UN buffer zone and Panayi v. Turkey (45388/99) in the area of entry in the UN buffer zone."[32]

Right to property[edit]

On 5 May 1994, the United Nations, International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Segregation (CERD), in its consideration of reports submitted by states parties under Article 9 of the convention noted:

"Seizure, appropriation, exploitation and distribution of land, houses, enterprises and industries belonging to Greek Cypriots. The Greek Cypriots who were forcibly expelled from their homes continue to be arbitrarily deprived of their properties in the occupied areas. Such properties continue to be illegally distributed by the Turkish occupation forces to persons other than their legal owners, including to Turkish mainland settlers."[2]

The Class Action lawsuit, Greek Cypriots, et al. v. TRNC and HSBC Bank USA, initiated by Greek Cypriot refugees from the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, has been joined by Sandra Kocinski, Pat Clarke and Suz Latchford who paid for but have never been given legal title to the villas that they purchased in the northern part of the island.[33][34]

The Immoveable Property Commission of Northern Cyprus offers to buy outright the properties of displaced persons in case of an application to the commission but does not allow the return of displaced persons to their properties or land.[8]

Rights of displaced persons[edit]

On 5 May 1994, the United Nations, International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Segregation (CERD), in its consideration of reports submitted by states parties under Article 9 of the convention noted:

"Turkey continues to prevent about 200,000 Greek Cypriots who were forcibly expelled in 1974 from the occupied area and afterwards from returning to their homes. Turkey also forced almost another 20,000 people who had remained in the occupied area after the end of the Turkish military operation of August 1974 to leave their homes and to take refuge in the Government-controlled area."[2]

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of Loizidou v. Turkey concerning the right of Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou to return to her home, since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and also highlighted the failure of the Republic of Turkey to compensate Loizidou after the ruling at a later Human Rights meeting of the Council of Europe: "... that the Turkish authorities had continuously prevented her from having access to and enjoying certain property she owned in northern Cyprus."[35]

In May 2001, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled:

"... that Turkey was responsible for violations of human rights in Cyprus stemming from the 1974 Turkish military intervention. The result of a complaint by the Government of Cyprus, the decision rejected the Turkish argument that the "TRNC" is an independent state and instead ruled that it is "a subordinate local administration of Turkey operating in northern Cyprus"."[10]

Rights of LGBT[edit]

Sexual intercourse between consenting adult females is legal in northern Cyprus.[36] Male homosexuality was still criminalised in northern Cyprus until January 2014, while anti-homosexuality legislation formerly in effect in the Republic of Cyprus was repealed following a 1993 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (Modinos v. Cyprus).[37]

On 27 January 2014 Turkish Cypriot deputies passed an amendment repealing a colonial-era law that punished homosexual acts with up to five years in prison by a new Criminal Code. It was the last territory in Europe to decriminalise sexual relations between consenting, adult men. In response to the vote, Paulo Corte-Real from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, a rights advocacy group said that "We welcome today's vote and can finally call Europe a continent completely free from laws criminalising homosexuality". [38]

Rights of minorities[edit]

In 2001, the US Department of State said that Greek Cypriot and Maronite minorities are not treated as well as they should be.[3] However, another US Department of State report in 2002 reported that the government of Northern Cyprus was easing restrictions on minorities and it respected the rights of travelling abroad and emigrating.[10] In April 1998, the United Kingdom-based National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns asserted that the Turkish army had carried out a forced migration policy where Kurds were forced to colonise Northern Cyprus from the Republic of Turkey, and The Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the United Kingdom in 1999 said that Kurds were not being discriminated against and enjoyed equal political and religious rights to others.[3]

In 2008, a synagogue was opened in Kyrenia for the small Jewish community in Northern Cyprus which mostly comprises non-resident businesspersons. There have been no reported Anti-Semitic attacks.[8]

Rights of women[edit]

The law of Northern Cyprus prohibits domestic violence under a general assault/violence/battery clause in the criminal code,[8] although a separate domestic violence legislation has not yet been passed in Northern Cyprus.[39] In January 2009, the Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation, noted that women do not have equal rights as men, nor do they live in similar conditions as men, especially when married. Women are prevented from enjoying their rights by the patriarchal society.[7] A US Department of State report in 2010 indicated that although authorities handled and prosecuted rape cases effectively, violence against women was an issue and there were no NGOs to support victims of rape.[8]

The Enclaved[edit]

On 5 May 1994, the United Nations, International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Segregation (CERD), in its consideration of reports submitted by states parties under Article 9 of the convention reported:

"As a result of the Turkish invasion and occupation, approximately 20,000 Greek Cypriots remained in their villages in the occupied area in the wake of the invasion ... Out of these 20,000 only a few hundred now remain ... This is the result of a persistent policy of harassment, racial discrimination, intimidation and coercion carried out by the Turkish occupation army in order to force the enclaved Greek Cypriots to move to the part under Government control."[2]

The CERD also highlighted human rights violations concerning discrimination of the enclaved, their freedom of movement, and their right to education:

"The enclaved live under highly restrictive conditions and continue to suffer flagrant violations of their basic human rights and freedoms, contrary to international humanitarian law ... the Turkish occupation regime continues to apply a racist and inhuman policy against the Greek Cypriot enclaved, including: Denial of access to medical doctors and educational facilities. No Greek Cypriot doctors were allowed to be settled in the area or visit the enclaved on a regular basis."[2]

Furthermore, the CERD noted that the enclaved were subjected to forced labor by the local authorities since "All enclaved male Greek Cypriots between the ages of 18 and 50 are forced to report to the illegal "police station" in Rizokarpaso every Friday at 3 p.m. There they have to wait for 45–60 minutes. During this time they are forced to clean the "station", the yard and the adjacent streets."[2]

The Missing[edit]

On 8 April 2008, an International Committee on Missing Persons press release recorded that, since Cyprus intercommunal violence began in the 1950s, 502 Turkish Cypriots and 1468 Greek Cypriots were reported as missing through official channels. 252 burial sites and 510 individuals had been exhumed. 136 persons have been identified and their remains returned to their families.[40]

Other issues[edit]

The constant focus on the division of the island sometimes masks other human rights issues.[41] Prostitution is rife, and the island has been criticized for its role in the sex trade as one of the main routes of human trafficking from Eastern Europe.[42][43]

In January 2009, the Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation noted concerns about human trafficking:

"Trafficking in persons is a major visible area of human rights violations in North Cyprus which is a destination country for trafficked women from countries such as Ukraine, Moldova and Russia. Human trafficking appears to be on the rise in North Cyprus as it is worldwide."[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Constitution of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Article 30, Retrieved 2011-05-05: "Yasa, insan haklarına, demokrasi, sosyal adalet ve hukukun üstünlüğü ilkelerine dayanan laik devletin, ulusal güvenliğin ve genel ahlakın korunması halleri dışındaki bir nedene dayanarak, halkın bu araçlarla haber almasını, düşünce ve kanaatlara ulaşmasını ve kamuoyunun serbestçe oluşumunu engelleyici kayıtlar koyamaz.".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 9 of the Convention, United Nations, International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Segregation (CERD), 5 May 1994.
  3. ^ a b c "Cyprus: Population of Kurds in Turkish controlled Northern Cyprus; their treatment by the government of Turkey and its agents". Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 15 April 2002. Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the question of human rights in Cyprus 16th Session, Human Rights Council, United Nations, 7 January 2011.
  5. ^ Freedom in the World 2011 Report Freedom House's Freedom in the World 2011 Report, page 29
  6. ^ Freedom in the World 2014, Freedom House, January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Overview of the Human Rights Situation in North Cyprus Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "2010 Human Rights Report: Cyprus", US Department of State, Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  9. ^ The Constitution of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Articles 23 and 30, Retrieved 2011-04-24.
  10. ^ a b c d 2002 Report on Human Rights in Cyprus, US Department of State, retrieved on April 21, 2011.
  11. ^ Cyprus International Religious Freedom Report 2007 - Cyprus, US Department of State, Retrieved 2011-04-24.
  12. ^ Cyprus Overview, Minority Rights Group International, Retrieved April 21, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Interruption of the Christmas mass in the northern occupied part of Cyprus by Turkish troops and restrictions to the right to freedom of religion and worship Written Declaration No. 467, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Doc. 12505, 27 January 2011.
  14. ^ Northern Cyprus Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe, Senate, 25 January 2011.
  15. ^ Kutlu Adali Committee to Protect Journalists, 6 July 1996.
  16. ^ Adali v. Turkey Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, 31 March 2005.
  17. ^ World Press Freedom Index 2010, Reporters Without Borders.
  18. ^ a b c Car bomb injures Cypriot journalist International News Safety Institute, 15 April 2011.
  19. ^ Early day motion 734, Eleni Foka, Houses of Parliament website, 2 March 1994.
  20. ^ Annual Report 2007 of the Ministry of Education, p. 252, Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Education, 2007.
  21. ^ a b c Cyprus v Turkey Application no. 25781/94 European Court of Human Rights May 2001 RIGHTtoEDUCATION project.
  22. ^ The Cyprus Educational System, Primary Education, Ministry of Education and Culture, Nicosia, 2003.
  23. ^ One-minute speeches on matters of political importance, MEP Tsatsos, European Parliament, Strasbourg, 1 September 2003.
  24. ^ Continuing concern for the enclaved Greek Cypriots in the occupied areas, United Nations, 11 March 1999.
  25. ^ a b Annual Report 2008 of the Ministry of Education, p. 276, Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Education, 2008.
  26. ^ In the same school year a nursery school was also opened for the Greek Cypriot community Teaching tolerance, Northern Cyprus hosts first Greek-language schools in three decades, Kathimerini newspaper, 9 March 2005.
  27. ^ School year begins in Cyprus primary education, Financial Mirror, 4 September 2008.
  28. ^ European Court of Human Rights: Rulings Against Turkey Law Library of Congress, 2 July 2008.
  29. ^ Solomou v. Turkey Netherlands Institute of Human Rights
  30. ^ Arrest warrants issued for murder of Tassos Isaac Republic of Cyprus Press & Information Office press release, 22 November 1996.
  31. ^ Chamber Judgement Kakoulli v. Turkey, European Court of Human Rights, 22 November 2005.
  32. ^ Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the question of human rights in Cyprus, p.10, 16th Session, Human Rights Council, United Nations, 7 January 2011.
  33. ^ Stephanos Constantinides, «International Law, Human Rights and Realpolitik, the Case of Cyprus», (in cooperation with Thalia Tassou), in Etudes Helléniques/Hellenic Studies, vol. 10, No. 1, Spring 2002.
  34. ^ Buyers of property in the north join US lawsuit, 17 January 2010, NorthCyprusDaily.com
  35. ^ "H54-1 - Loizidou against Turkey, Judgments of 18 December 1996 and 28 July 1998, Application of Article 54 of the ECHR". Council of Europe, Human Rights Meeting. 9 September 1999. Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  36. ^ State-sponsored Homophobia, A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults, by Daniel Ottoson, The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, May 2010.
  37. ^ "Overview of the Human Rights Situation in North Cyprus by the Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation". ktihv.org. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  38. ^ http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/01/27/us-cyprus-north-gay-idUKBREA0Q16R20140127
  39. ^ Cyprus Human Rights Practices, 1995: Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status Hellenic Resources network, U.S. Department of State, March 1996.
  40. ^ Experts from Cyprus Committee on Missing Persons Visit ICMP International Committee on Missing Persons, 8 April 2008.
  41. ^ "US Department of State Report on Human Rights in Cyprus". Asylumlaw.org. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  42. ^ Jean Christou. "US report raps Cyprus over battle on flesh trade". cyprus-mail.com. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  43. ^ Jacqueline Theodoulou. "A shame on our society". cyprus-mail.com. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 

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