Cypriot Ombudswoman Eliza Savvidou has told CNA that there has been a clear improvement in the central prison in 2015, noting that visits to other premises where old or disabled people reside continue.
Replying to questions following an announcement of a visit to Cyprus in the first half of 2016 by a delegations of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, she said that the exact timing of the visit will be announced last minute for obvious reasons.
Savvidou, whose office has been appointed as the national monitoring body for the prevention of torture in Cyprus, explained that in the context of this mandate her office visits places where people are detained or their freedom is curtailed.
Such places, she added, include the central prison and police stations but also homes or institutions where old, disabled or people with mental disabilities reside.
Every year, she notes, “we visit as many places as possible”, adding that due understaffing the number of visits is restricted. After every visit, she explained, a report is drafted and the relevant department is notified.
“If we conclude that the conditions in which people are living are not appropriate, resulting in suffering, we make our recommendations,” she points out. Usually, she adds, “we have a good cooperation with services on the steps they need to take in order to improve the situation.”
Replying to a question over the outcome of her visits during the first half of 2015, she says that “there is a clear improvement in the central prison and this is by and large due to the efforts of the new Acting Director, who does a great job.”
This year, Savvidou continues, the objective is to visit, apart from police detention centres, places where old and disabled people live. She says that “there are some concerns over the way people are admitted to such places, whether it is voluntary, whether the laws and the Constitution are upheld.”
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY