Human Rights abuse in the Republic of Cyprus

Policeman - the best carnival costume everI read with total disbelief the reports of eight policemen being involved in assaulting students, handcuffed and in their custody. My belief was then further challenged when I read that, not only was this crime reported, it was videoed and that footage made available to these officers’ superiors. You will be forgiven for thinking that this assault on children, yes children, for in my opinion anyone still in full-time education is still a child, still someone’s son or daughter, must have been taking place in some third world country. You would be wrong, it was taking place in a full member country of the European Union, namely the Republic of Cyprus. The very place whose people originate from Greece, often described as ‘the cradle of civilisation’, Greek Cypriots, or as some prefer to be called Cypriots.

The first trial of this case took place in March 2009 and the 3-Judge Criminal Court would not allow the film taken to be entered into evidence and the policemen were found not guilty. Following a backlash where members of the public placed bananas outside the Court building, an Appeal did allow the footage and the policemen were found guilty, receiving sentences varying from two months to one year, suspended for three years. Now what sort of message does that send out to:

a) the colleagues of the perpetrators of this crime, other police officers – carry on beating?
b) the public

The parents of the students have a responsibility to their children. The officers assaulted their children, nowhere in the European Union are even parents legally allowed to do that. In my opinion, they should take out a Civil case jointly and sue the RoC Police Authority for compensation for the assault, for the suffering and trauma caused by this assault and the subsequent trial and publicity. Clearly, they cannot expect those charged with the responsibility of protecting their children, the police, who have proved that, instead of being the guardians of the law, they believe they are the law. The Judges, well I will leave you to draw your own conclusions on that one. If Justice evades these victims in the RoC then they should take the case to the European Courts and even to Strasbourg if that becomes necessary. These Greek Cypriot children have had their Human Rights violated by the very people paid to protect them.

Finally I read that the policemen, who now have a criminal record, are on suspension from duty receiving reduced pay whilst awaiting the outcome of a Police Disciplinary Committee’s investigation into their behaviour. The police, policing the police, well do not hold your breath on that one.

The RoC are full members of the European Union and with that comes many rights, also with that comes many responsibilities. Step up to the plate and accept your responsibilities. It is just too easy to focus only on your rights. A prime responsibility is to protect the Human Rights of each and every individual residing in your country, citizens and guests alike.

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