The Technical Committee on crime and criminal matters takes practical steps “to build trust and bridges” between the two communities, its Greek Cypriot Chairman and University of Cyprus Law Department professor Andros Kapardis has told CNA.
Replying to CNA questions on Thursday, Kapardis says UN SG` s Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide had a meeting with the Committee on Wednesday to be briefed on they way it operates and what it does.
Asked how active the Technical Committee is, he said that since 2009 the Committee operates a bi-communal contact office in the UN-controlled buffer zone which is staffed by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
The office, he explains, deals with matters relating to the Committee`s remit and humanitarian matters, such as stolen property which is smuggled from the one side of the Green Line to the other; When stolen items of property are found they are returned to their owners, he explained.
The office is also called upon to deal with more difficult incidents such as cases involving family disputes between parents, one of whom may take a child to the other side of the divide without the expressed permission of the other.
At the same time, he added, the Committee organises seminars on crime prevention in an effort to bring together NGOs from both communities. Since its inception in 2008, the Technical Committee has organised many seminars on such issues as the prevention of family violence, road safety, teenage crime, addictive substances and money laundering.
A seminar on the prevention of corruption will be next on the list while there also discussions on a seminar on the challenges of policing in federal systems with the participation of experts from abroad.
“Our goal is to build something new with solid foundations”, he points out.
Replying to another question, Kapardis said there is very good cooperation between the members of the Committee, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. “We are aware of all the political sensitivities”, he notes, adding that “our work is at a lower, practical level, in order to build trust and bridges.”
Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN backed talks resumed in May between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci aiming to reunify the island under a federal roof.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY