U.S. Department of State
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor,
Cyprus Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998
February 26, 1998
Prior to 1974, Cyprus experienced a long period of intercommunal strife
between its Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. In response, the United
Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) began peacekeeping operations in March
1964. The island has been divided since the Turkish military intervention
of 1974, following a coup d'etat directed from Greece. Since 1974 the
southern part of the island has been under the control of the Government of
the Republic of Cyprus. The northern part is ruled by a Turkish Cypriot
administration. In 1983 that administration proclaimed itself the "Turkish
Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC"), which is recognized only by Turkey.
The two parts are separated by a buffer zone patrolled by the UNFICYP. A
substantial number of Turkish troops remain on the island. In both the
government-controlled areas and in the Turkish Cypriot community there is a
generally strong regard for democratic principles. Glafcos Clerides was
reelected President of the Republic of Cyprus in February 1998; in 1995,
Turkish Cypriots reelected Rauf Denktash as their leader. The judiciary is
independent in both communities.
Police in the government-controlled areas and in the Turkish Cypriot
community are responsible for law enforcement. Police forces operating in
the government-controlled areas are under civilian control, while military
authorities direct Turkish Cypriot police forces. In general the police
forces of both sides respect the rule of law, but instances of police abuse
of power continued.
Both Cypriot economies operate on the basis of free market principles,
although in each community there are significant administrative controls.
The government-controlled part of the island has a robust, service-oriented
economy, with a declining manufacturing base and a small agricultural
sector. Tourism and trade generate 22 percent of gross domestic product
and employ 27 percent of the labor force. In 1997 per capita income was
approximately $13,000, inflation was 3.6 percent, and unemployment was 3.5
percent. Growth in 1997 remained sluggish at 2.3 percent, compared to 2.0
percent in 1996. The Turkish Cypriot economy, which is handicapped
significantly by an economic embargo by the Greek Cypriots, relies heavily
on subsidies from Turkey and is burdened by an overly large public sector.
It, too, is basically service-oriented but has a relatively smaller tourism
base and a larger agricultural sector. In 1997 per capita income in the
north was approximately $3,700, and inflation was 82 percent. The economy
in the north recorded a growth rate of 1.5 percent in 1997 after a negative
growth rate of 1.1 percent in 1996.
The Government of the Republic of Cyprus generally respected human rights
norms and practices; however, instances of police brutality continued to be
The Turkish Cypriot authorities generally respect human rights norms and
practices; however, police abuse of suspects' and detainees' rights
continued. The authorities also restricted freedom of movement. Since
December 1997 the Turkish Cypriot authorities have banned most bicommunal
contacts between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, including previously
frequent meetings in Nicosia's buffer zone. They sometimes attempted to
prevent Turkish Cypriots from travelling to bicommunal meetings off the
island as well. In February Turkish Cypriot officials also instituted a
new, higher fee system for crossings at the main Nicosia checkpoint, making
it more difficult for both sides to cross the buffer zone. The Turkish
Cypriot authorities have taken some steps to improve the conditions of
Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the territory under their control,
but the treatment of these groups still falls short of Turkish Cypriot
obligations under the Vienna III agreement of 1975.
Violence against women remained a problem in both areas.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killings.
Turkish Cypriot authorities still have not conducted a credible
investigation of the 1996 murder of a prominent leftist Turkish Cypriot
journalist, Kutlu Adali, who wrote articles critical of Turkey's role in
the north and particularly on the role of the Turkish military and of
policies that allowed large numbers of Turkish workers into the
In 1996 Turkish Cypriot civilian police killed a Greek Cypriot demonstrator
who had entered the U.N. buffer zone, and the police participated in the
beating death of another. Again, there has not been any significant
investigation by Turkish Cypriot authorities of the killings. The
Government of Cyprus stated that it would press for legal action against
the killers, and the victims' families have filed a case against Turkey at
the European Commission of Human Rights.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
Both the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus and the basic law governing
the Turkish Cypriot community specifically prohibit torture, the law in
both communities prohibits such practices, and the authorities generally
respect these provisions in practice; however, there continue to be
instances of Cypriot police brutality against suspects in detention, mostly
involving non-Cypriots (see Section 2.d.). Turkish Cypriots continue to
allege that two Turkish Cypriots, arrested near the buffer zone by Greek
Cypriot police in October 1997 on smuggling charges, were tortured.
However, U.N. officials who examined the two men found no evidence that
supported their claims. The men, who were represented by a Turkish Cypriot
attorney, were tried and convicted in accordance with Cypriot law.
Following their May conviction and sentencing to 12 months' imprisonment,
they were released in July and returned to the north.
Official action still is pending against the Cypriot police involved in a
1995 case of torture of a suspected Turkish Cypriot drug smuggler, Erkan
Egmez. Egmez was released and returned to the north. He filed a complaint
against the Cypriot Government at the European Commission of Human Rights,
and the Commission has ruled it admissible.
The Commission also agreed in January to investigate complaints by nine
Turkish Cypriots that Greek Cypriot police mistreated them in 1994 and
expelled them to the north. The complainants allege that they were
threatened with death if they returned to the south and that Greek Cypriot
police were responsible for the death of one complainant's son, who did
return to the south later in 1994. The Cypriot Government denies all the
charges; the Commission took oral evidence in the case in Nicosia in
In both of the above cases, the Commission's admissibility ruling made no
judgment on the merits of the individual case.
While there were no public allegations of police brutality in the Turkish
Cypriot community, there were credible reports of pervasive police abuse of
power and routine harsh treatment of detainees (see Section 1.d.).
Prison conditions in general meet minimum international standards.
The Cypriot Government and the Turkish Cypriot authorities permit prison
visits by human rights monitors.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Throughout Cyprus the police respect laws providing for freedom from
arbitrary arrest and detention. Judicially issued arrest warrants are
required. No one may be detained for more than a day without referral of
the case to the courts for extension of the period of detention. Most
periods of investigative detention do not exceed 8 to 10 days before formal
charges are filed. Attorneys generally have access to detainees; bail is
Some abuses of power occur at the hands of the Turkish Cypriot police,
generally at the time of arrest. Suspects often are not permitted to have
their lawyers present when testimony is being taken, a right provided under
the Turkish Cypriot basic law. Suspects who demand the presence of a
lawyer are threatened routinely with stiffer charges or even physically
intimidated. A high percentage of convictions in the Turkish Cypriot
community are obtained with confessions made during initial police
interrogation under these conditions. There are also credible reports that
police routinely abuse their right to hold persons up to 24 hours before
having to go before a judge. Police officers use this tactic against
persons believed to have behaved in a manner deemed insulting to the
officer. The suspects are then released within 24 hours without charges
having been filed.
Exile is prohibited specifically by the Constitution and by the basic law
governing the Turkish Cypriot community.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The judiciary is legally independent of executive or military influence in
On both sides, most criminal and civil cases begin in district courts, from
which appeals are made to supreme courts.
Cyprus inherited many elements of its legal system from the United Kingdom
legal tradition, including the presumption of innocence, the right to due
process, and the right of appeal. Throughout Cyprus, a fair public trial
is provided for in law and accorded in practice. Defendants have the right
to be present at their trials, to be represented by counsel (at government
expense for those who cannot afford one), to confront witnesses, and to
present evidence in their own defense. There are no special courts to try
security or political offenses.
On the Turkish Cypriot side, civilians deemed to have violated military
zones are subject to trial in a military court. These courts consist of
one military and two civilian judges and a civilian prosecutor. Members of
the Turkish Cypriot bar have complained that civilian judges tend to defer
to their military colleague in such hearings.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or
Both the Cyprus Constitution and the basic law governing the Turkish
Cypriot community include provisions protecting the individual against
arbitrary interference by the authorities, and a judicial warrant is
required for a police official to enter a private residence. Although
authorities on both sides generally respected these provisions in practice,
police on both sides subjected members of the other community resident in
their area to harassment and surveillance (see Section 5).
The Turkish Cypriot authorities restricted the ability of Greek Cypriots
and Maronites living in the north to change their housing at will (see
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Freedom of speech and the press are provided for by law and are freely
practiced throughout the island. The proliferation of party and
independent newspapers and periodicals in both communities enables ideas
and arguments to circulate freely. Opposition papers frequently criticize
the authorities. Several private television and radio stations in the
Greek Cypriot community compete effectively with the government-controlled
stations. Following passage of new legislation in 1997, Turkish Cypriot
authorities no longer have a monopoly on local radio and television. Six
new, private radio stations are operating, in addition to two smaller,
university-run stations, and three private television stations are
broadcasting, with a fourth planned. International broadcasts are
available without interference throughout the island, including telecasts
from Turkey and Greece.
During the year Turkish Cypriot officials filed a number of court actions
against newspapers and journalists, alleging that certain articles "damaged
the prestige of the state." A number of cases were dropped before coming
to trial, in response to retractions. No cases had come to trial by year's
There have been intermittent restrictions on the ability of some
journalists to cross the buffer zone to cover news events. The Cypriot
Government has denied entry to the south for Turkish journalists who
arrived on Cyprus through ports of entry in the north; in retaliation,
Turkish Cypriot authorities sometimes have required Greek Cypriot
journalists to purchase a visa to enter the north, which the journalists
have refused to do. The current Turkish Cypriot policy is to permit Greek
Cypriot journalists travelling as a group to cover events in the north
without paying for visas, but not to allow Greek journalists unless they
purchase visas. Individual Greek Cypriot journalists usually also must pay
the visa fees.
Academic freedom generally is respected throughout the island.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The freedom to hold meetings, associate, and organize is protected by law,
and the Government respects these rights in practice.
Although Turkish authorities also generally respected these rights, they
imposed restrictions on bicommunal meetings (see Section 2.d.).
c. Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion generally is respected. Although missionaries have the
legal right to proselytize in both communities, missionary activities are
monitored closely by the Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church and by both Greek
Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot authorities.
Turkish Cypriots residing in the southern part of the island and non-
Muslims in the north are allowed to practice their religions. Restrictions
on the right of Greek Cypriots resident in the north to visit Apostolos
Andreas monastery have been eased. Greek Cypriots living in the north, in
groups of 20 or more, now may visit the monastery every Sunday and on
religious holidays. An application to replace a retiring priest has been
pending for more than 18 months.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration,
Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots enjoy freedom of movement within their
respective areas. Both authorities respect the right to travel abroad and
to emigrate. Turkish Cypriots have difficulty traveling to most countries
because travel documents issued by the "Turkish Republic of Northern
Cyprus" are recognized only by Turkey. Most Turkish Cypriots use Turkish
travel documents instead.
The Republic of Cyprus authorities permit only day travel by tourists to
the northern part of the island. They have declared that it is illegal to
enter Cyprus except at authorized entry points in the south, effectively
barring entry into the government-controlled area by foreigners who have
entered Cyprus from the north. Following the 1994 murder of the director
of a Greek Cypriot association supporting Kurds in Turkey, the Greek
Cypriot authorities placed significantly tighter controls on the movement
of Turkish Cypriots to the south. Institutions and individuals sponsoring
visits of Turkish Cypriots to the government-controlled areas must notify
the police in advance and provide them with an exact itinerary.
Turkish Cypriot authorities generally allow visits to the north by persons
who initially enter Cyprus in the south, but they have denied entry to
persons of Turkish-Cypriot origin who enter Cyprus in the south.
Previously, visitors of Greek Cypriot or Armenian origin, or even persons
having Greek or Armenian names, faced considerable difficulties entering
the north. In 1995 the Turkish Cypriot authorities instituted a new policy
under which foreign nationals of Greek Cypriot origin would be permitted to
visit the Turkish Cypriot-controlled areas. However, implementation of the
procedures remains inconsistent.
In February the Turkish Cypriot leadership instituted a new system of
crossing fees at the main Nicosia checkpoint. In addition to requiring
substantially higher crossing fees (approximately $25 [£15] for Greeks and
Greek Cypriots, $6.50 [£4] for other nationalities, and $6.50 [£4] for
Turkish Cypriots travelling to the south), the new plan requires Greeks and
Greek Cypriots to obtain a formal "TRNC" visa to visit the north. Greek
Cypriots, Maronites, and other non-Turkish Cypriots permanently residing in
the north can obtain a monthly crossing permit for approximately $16 (£10).
The effect of the new system has been to reduce overall crossings,
especially for Maronites visiting from the south, for whom travel
previously was free.
Following an agreement in 1997 on reciprocal visits to religious sites, a
number of visits occurred, although there were no visits to the north in
1998 until September because the Turkish Cypriot authorities were requiring
Greek Cypriot visitors to pay the new crossing fee. The Cypriot Government
permitted almost 1,300 Turkish Cypriots to make a pilgrimage to a Moslem
shrine in the south in February, plus another 1,300 in April, the largest
number since 1974. However, a scheduled Easter visit by Greek Cypriots to
an Orthodox monastery in the north was cancelled because of the fee
requirement. In September a group of approximately 1,300 Greek Cypriots
finally was allowed to visit the monastery without paying the crossing fee.
In November another group of 1,400 Greek Cypriots visited the monastery as
well, without paying the fee.
In 1996 the European Court of Human Rights ruled 11 to 6 that Turkey
committed a continuing violation of the rights of a Greek Cypriot woman by
preventing her from going to her property located in north Cyprus. The
ruling reaffirmed the validity of property deeds issued prior to 1974. The
Court also found in this case that "it was obvious from the large number of
troops engaged in active duties in northern Cyprus that the Turkish army
exercised effective overall control there. In the circumstances of the
case, this entailed Turkey's responsibility for the policies and actions of
the 'TRNC.'" In July the Court ordered Turkey to pay the woman
approximately $915,000 in damages and costs by October 28. The Turkish
Government stated that it cannot implement the Court's decision, which it
contends is a political decision, and argued that the land in question is
not Turkish but is part of the "Turkish Republic of Northern
Until late December 1997, Turkish Cypriot authorities approved most
applications for Turkish Cypriots to participate in bicommunal meetings in
the U.N.-controlled buffer zone, but on December 27, 1997, they suspended
Turkish Cypriot participation in these meetings pending a reevaluation of
bicommunal activities. The "suspension" soon became an effective Turkish
Cypriot ban on bicommunal contacts on Cyprus. Whereas in 1997 thousands of
Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots participated in bicommunal events, in
which groups of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots met to discuss such
topics as the environment, family violence, management techniques, business
operations, and legal questions, the Turkish Cypriot ban halted almost all
of those contacts. In addition to the ending of bicommunal events in the
buffer zone, Turkish Cypriots may not visit the south for bicommunal
contacts and Greek Cypriots may not visit the north for such contacts
(unless they purchase a Turkish Cypriot "visa"). Turkish Cypriot
authorities also attempted to interfere with some bicommunal events taking
place outside Cyprus by prohibiting civil servants from participating.
Enforcement of the policy has been inconsistent, with some public officials
permitted to attend off-island bicommunal events. Private citizens have
been allowed to travel to off-island bicommunal events.
Restrictions on Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north were eased
in 1998. Turkish Cypriot authorities usually grant the applications of
Greek Cypriot residents in the north to visit the government-controlled
area. The limit on visits to the south was extended this year from 15 days
per month to a total of 6 months. The applicants must return within the
designated period or risk losing their right to return and to keep their
property, although this rule rarely is enforced in practice. Turkish
Cypriot authorities also eliminated the previous monthly limit on visits by
close family relatives of Greek Cypriots resident in the north (it was once
per month until 1996 and twice per month thereafter). A limit on overnight
stays also was dropped. Persons travelling both ways must pay the new
Similar restrictions exist for visits by Maronite residents of the north to
the government-controlled area, but they are applied much more loosely than
restrictions on Greek Cypriots, and Maronite travel is relatively free.
However, Maronite residents also now must pay the crossing fees described
While in the past Turkish Cypriot authorities permitted school holiday and
weekend visits to the north only by children under the ages of 16 (male)
and 18 (female), the age limits for Maronite students and female Greek
Cypriot students were lifted entirely in 1998. Male Greek Cypriot students
still may visit the north only until age 16, since they are eligible for
Greek Cypriot military service at age 17. Students pay a lower fee to
cross the buffer zone, approximately $3.00. During the 1997-98 Christmas
and New Year holiday, 700 adult children and grandchildren of Greek
Cypriots living in the north visited the north and stayed overnight.
During the 1998-99 holiday, approximately 315 Greek Cypriots visited the
north, but others cancelled visits due to the imposition of crossing fees
by the Turkish Cypriots.
According to new regulations announced in October, the Turkish Cypriot
authorities no longer require Greek Cypriots or Maronites resident in the
north to obtain police permits for internal travel in the north. They may
use private vehicles registered and insured in the north. However, it was
unclear at year's end whether the new policy was being implemented
Although asylum legislation remains pending in the legislature, the
Government of Cyprus regularly grants de facto first asylum. However,
during the year there were several instances in which large groups of
illegal immigrants attempting to reach Western Europe instead landed on
Cyprus after their overcrowded vessels encountered problems at sea. The
largest such group numbered over 100 persons, all of whom applied for
political asylum after arriving in June. After several months of detention
in a hotel, during which representatives of the U.N. High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) interviewed the immigrants, only 23 were granted asylum,
and a large group was transferred to a jail. Those who did not receive
asylum were deported against their will or awaited deportation at year's
end. In August some of the immigrants charged that the police beat them--
which the police denied. However, in October a special police unit was
filmed by local television cameras kicking and beating the detainees with
batons, while stopping a protest during which the detainees burned their
bedding. An examination of the immigrants, mostly black Africans, by a
forensic pathologist revealed that most were injured, some seriously. The
Attorney General ordered investigations into both incidents, but no reports
were released by year's end.
The Government of Cyprus normally receives 60 to 70 asylum applications
each year. These cases are referred to the local UNHCR office for
evaluation. If applicants are found to meet the criteria for refugee
status, they are permitted to remain and are given temporary work permits.
However, applicants generally are not granted permanent resettlement
rights: the Government claims that it already has enough responsibilities
in caring for those displaced after the 1974 Turkish intervention.
Applicants are permitted to remain until resettlement in a third country
can be arranged. In both the north and the south, cooperation with U.N.
refugee authorities is excellent. The UNHCR is not aware of any cases of
asylum seekers in the north in recent years.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to
Change Their Government
Multiparty political systems exist throughout Cyprus. Under the Republic's
Constitution, political parties compete for popular support actively and
without restriction. Suffrage is universal, and elections are held by
secret ballot. Elections for the office of president are held every 5
years; in February President Clerides won reelection to a new 5-year term.
Elections for members of the House of Representatives are held every 5
years or less. In addition to their normal voting rights, the small
Maronite, Armenian, and Latin communities also elect special nonvoting
representatives from their respective communities.
The Turkish Cypriots living in northern Cyprus elect a leader and a
representative body every 5 years or less; in December they chose a new
"National Assembly." In April 1995 Turkish Cypriot voters elected Rauf
Denktash as their leader in elections deemed by observers to be free and
Under the 1960 Constitution, voting took place on a communal basis.
Therefore, since the breakdown in 1963 of bicommunal governing arrangements,
and since the 1974 de facto partition of the island, Turkish Cypriots
living in the government-controlled area are barred from voting there,
although they may travel to the north to vote in elections. Similarly,
Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north are barred by law from
participating in Turkish Cypriot elections. They are eligible to vote in
Greek Cypriot elections but must travel to the south to exercise that
right. They also may choose their own village officials, but those elected
are not recognized by the Government of Cyprus.
In both communities, women face no legal obstacles to their prticiaption in
the political process. While clearly underrepresented in government, they
hold some cabinet-level, judicial, and other senior positions. In the
House of Representatives, women hold 3 of 56 seats; in the newly elected
"National Assembly" in the north, women hold 4 of 50 seats.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Organizations in both parts of the island consider themselves human rights
groups; however, they generally are concerned with alleged violations of
the rights of their community's members by the other community. Groups
with a broad human rights mission include organizations promoting awareness
of domestic violence and others concerned with alleged police
No restrictions prevent the formation of human rights groups.
Representatives of international human rights organizations have access
throughout the island.
The United Nations, through the autonomous Tripartite (United Nations,
Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot) Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus
(CMP), is attempting to resolve the missing persons dilemma that remained
from the intercommunal violence beginning in 1963-64 and the 1974 Turkish
military intervention. However, the CMP has made little progress. In July
1997, the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities agreed to
collect and share information on missing persons by the end of September
1997, outside of the CMP process. The information finally was exchanged in
January 1998. Further progress has been delayed due to Turkish Cypriot
reluctance to proceed without a full accounting first of who may have been
killed in internal Greek Cypriot fighting in July 1974 prior to the landing
of Turkish forces on Cyprus. The Government of Cyprus is exploring the
possibility of beginning exhumations of gravesites in the south that may
contain the remains of persons missing since 1974. In March the remains of
one of the five U.S. citizens missing since 1974, Andrew Kassapis, was
identified through DNA testing.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability,
Language, or Social Status
Legislation in both communities provides for protection against
discrimination based on sex, religion, or national, racial or ethnic
origin. While each community generally respects such laws, significant
problems remain with the treatment of the Greek Cypriots and Maronites
living in the north and, to a lesser extent, with the treatment of Turkish
Cypriots living in the government-controlled area.
Spousal abuse in the Greek Cypriot community is receiving increasing
attention, and the problem is believed to be significant. A 1994 law aimed
at making spousal abuse easier to report and prosecute has had little
effect because key provisions remain unfunded and unimplemented. Many
suspected cases of domestic violence do not reach the courts, largely
because of family pressure and the wife's economic dependence on her
husband. An organization formed to address the domestic abuse problem
reported 689 cases through November 1998, compared with 922 cases in 1997,
with 86 percent of the reported victims women, 11 percent children, and 3
percent men. A shelter for battered women opened in late 1998. Very few
cases tried in the courts result in convictions. There is little public
discussion of domestic violence in the Turkish Cypriot community, although
a report issued by the Women's Research Center described such violence as
common. A women's shelter opened in 1994. Domestic violence cases are
rare in the Turkish Cypriot legal system, since they often are considered a
Republic of Cyprus law forbids forced prostitution. However, credible
reports continue that women, generally East Asian or Eastern European night
club performers, are forced into prostitution in the Greek Cypriot
community. To date there have been few arrests since the women, fearing
retaliation by their employers, generally do not press charges. In the
Turkish Cypriot community, there are an estimated 300 to 350 women, mostly
from Eastern Europe, working as prostitutes. These women often must
surrender their passports to the club owners and sometimes are prohibited
even from making private phone calls.
Reports on the mistreatment of maids are frequent in the Greek Cypriot
press. These reports usually involve allegations that maids, often from
East or South Asia, have been treated inhumanely by their employers or
fired without cause in violation of their contracts. Many women do not
complain to authorities, fearing retribution from their employers. Those
who do file charges run the risk of being fired and then deported.
Throughout Cyprus, women generally have the same legal status as men. In a
significant step, Greek Cypriot women married to foreign husbands were for
the first time given the right to transmit citizenship to their children
automatically in new legislation passed in December. Previously they were
required to apply for Cypriot citizenship for their children, while Greek
Cypriot men could transmit citizenship to their children automatically.
In July a new Turkish Cypriot law on marriage and divorce went into effect,
which provided for more equal treatment of husbands and wives. Under the
new law, the man no longer is considered legally the head of the family and
does not have the exclusive right to decide the family's place of
residence. The wife may retain her surname but also must add the husband's
surname. Turkish Cypriot women may now marry non-Moslem men. In cases of
divorce, the court decides on a fair distribution of the family's assets,
with each partner assured a minimum of 30 percent of the assets. In
dividing assets, the judge must take into account which partner is
receiving custody of the children and provide sufficient means to support
them. Legal provisions in both communities requiring equal pay for men and
women performing the same job are enforced effectively at the white collar
level, but Turkish Cypriot women employed in the agricultural and textile
sectors routinely are paid less than their male counterparts.
Both the Government and the Turkish Cypriot authorities demonstrate a
strong commitment to children's welfare. There is no difference in the
health care and educational opportunities available to boys and girls.
Free education through age 15 is compulsory in both communities. There is
no societal pattern of abuse of children.
People with Disabilities
In Cyprus generally, disabled persons do not appear to be discriminated
against in education or the provision of state services. In the Greek
Cypriot community, disabled persons who apply for a public sector position
are entitled to preference if they are deemed able to perform the required
duties and their qualifications equal those of other applicants.
Legislation also mandates that new public building and tourist facilities
provide access for the disabled, although little has been done to enforce
this law. In the Turkish Cypriot community, regulations require businesses
to employ 1 disabled person for every 25 positions they fill, although
enforcement is inconsistent. While there is increasing awareness of the
issue, the Turkish Cypriot community has not yet enacted legislation to
mandate access for the disabled to public buildings and other
Greek Cypriots living in the north report that unused Orthodox churches
continue to be vandalized.
Both the Government of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot administration have
constitutional or legal bars against discrimination. The basic agreement
covering treatment of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north and
Turkish Cypriots living in the south remains the 1975 Vienna III Agreement.
This agreement provides for voluntary transfer of populations, free and
unhindered access by UNFICYP to Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the
north and Turkish Cypriots living in the south, and facilities for
education, medical care, and religious worship.
Some Turkish Cypriots living in the government-controlled area face
difficulties in obtaining identification cards and other government
documents, especially if they were born after 1974. Turkish Cypriots also
appear to be subjected to harassment and surveillance by the Greek Cypriot
police. A number of Turkish Cypriots who worked in the government-
controlled area but did not live there lost their jobs following the August
1996 killing of two Greek Cypriots in the buffer zone. The Cyprus
Government, which stated that it could not ensure the safety of the Turkish
Cypriot workers, provided 6 months of unemployment benefits to those living
in the mixed Greek Cypriot-Turkish Cypriot village of Pyla, but no one has
UNFICYP access to Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north remains
limited. Despite recent improvements in living conditions for Greek
Cypriots and Maronites, there still are no Greek-language educational
facilities for Greek Cypriot or Maronite children in the north beyond the
elementary level, forcing parents in many instances to choose between
keeping their children with them or sending them to the south for further
education (in which case they may no longer return permanently to the
north). Additional telephones have been installed for Greek Cypriots
living in the north. Greek Cypriots still complain of vandalism of unused
Orthodox churches, and both Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the
north are unable to change their housing at will. Maronites also still
lack some public services available in most other Turkish Cypriot
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
All workers, except for members of the police and military forces, have the
legal right to form and join trade unions of their own choosing without
prior authorization. In the government-controlled area, police officers
also have the right to join associations, which have the right to bargain
collectively, although not to strike. More than 70 percent of the Greek
Cypriot work force belongs to independent trade unions. Approximately 50
to 60 percent of Turkish Cypriot private sector workers and all public
sector workers belong to labor unions.
In the Turkish Cypriot community, union officials allege that various firms
were successful in establishing "company" organizations and then applying
pressure on workers to join these unions. Officials of independent labor
unions also have accused the Turkish Cypriot authorities of creating rival
public sector unions to weaken the independent unions. The International
Labor Organization (ILO) has not yet acted on these complaints.
In both communities, trade unions freely and regularly take stands on
public policy issues that affected workers and maintain their independence
from the authorities. Two of the major trade unions, one in each community,
are affiliated closely with political parties. Both of the other major
unions are independent.
All workers have the right to strike, and several strikes have occurred.
However, in the northern part of the island a 1978 court ruling gives
employers an unrestricted right to hire replacement workers in the event of
a strike, thereby limiting the effectiveness of the right to strike.
Authorities of both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities have
the power to curtail strikes in what they deem to be "essential services,"
although this right is used rarely.
Unions in both parts of Cyprus are able to affiliate with international
trade union organizations, although Greek Cypriot unions sometimes object
to recognition of Turkish Cypriot unions formed after 1963.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Trade unions and confederations by law are free to organize and bargain
collectively throughout Cyprus. This right is observed in practice in the
government-controlled areas, and most wages and benefits are set by freely
negotiated collective agreements. However, Greek Cypriot collective
bargaining agreements are not enforceable. In the rare instances when such
agreements are believed to have been infringed, the Ministry of Labor is
called in to investigate the claim. If the Ministry is unable to resolve
the dispute, the union may call a strike to support its demands. However,
in practice such alleged violations are extremely rare.
In the Turkish Cypriot community, where inflation exceeded 60 percent over
the year, wage levels are reviewed several times a year for both the
private sector and public sector workers, and a corresponding cost-of-
living raise is established. A special commission composed of five
representatives each from organized labor, employers, and the authorities
conducts the review. Union leaders contend that private sector employers
are able to discourage union activity because the enforcement of labor and
occupational safety regulations is sporadic, and penalties for antiunion
practices are minimal. As in the Greek Cypriot community, parties to a
dispute may request mediation by the authorities.
Small export processing zones exist in the port of Larnaca and in Famagusta,
but the laws governing working conditions and actual practice there are the
same as those outside the zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor, including that performed by children, is
prohibited by law, and this prohibition is generally observed. However,
there were credible reports that foreign women were forced into
prostitution (see Section 5).
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
In both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, the minimum age
for the employment of children in an "industrial undertaking" is 16 years
of age. Turkish Cypriots may be employed in apprentice positions at the
age of 15. There are labor inspectors in both communities. However, in
family-run shops it is common to see younger children working after school,
and according to press reports, children as young as 11 or 12 years of age
work in factories or orchards during their school holidays in the Turkish
Cypriot community. Laws prohibit forced and bonded child labor, and these
laws are enforced effectively in both communities (see Section
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The legislated minimum wage in the Greek Cypriot community, which is
reviewed every year, is approximately $496 (£C 248) per month for shop
assistants, practical nurses, clerks, hairdressers, and nursery assistants.
This amount is insufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a
worker and family. All other occupations are covered under collective
bargaining agreements between trade unions and employers within the same
economic sector, and the wages set in these agreements are significantly
higher than the legislated minimum wage. The legislated minimum wage in
the Turkish Cypriot area, while subject to frequent review because of high
inflation, was approximately $265 (£C 132.5) per month as of January 1999.
This amount is insufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a
worker and family. Unskilled workers typically earn about $330 (£C 165)
per month, which is barely adequate to support a family.
In the Greek Cypriot community, the standard workweek in the private sector
is an average of 39 hours for white-collar workers and 38 hours for blue-
collar workers. In the public sector, it is 37¸ hours during the winter
and 35 hours in the summer. In the Turkish Cypriot community, the standard
workweek is 38 hours in the winter and 36 hours in the summer. Labor
inspectors effectively enforce these laws.
A significant percentage of the labor force in the north consists of
illegal workers, mostly from Turkey. According to some estimates, illegal
workers constitute as much as 25 percent of the total work force there.
There are frequent allegations that such workers are subject to
mistreatment, including nonpayment of wages and threats of deportation.
Recent steps were taken to improve health and safety standards in the
workplace in the government-controlled area. In 1997 a law took effect
that harmonized health and safety standards with those in the European
Union (EU). The new law incorporates EU principles and standards for
health and safety in the workplace and complies fully with the 1981 ILO
Convention on occupational health and safety. A second law entered into
effect in November 1997, requiring employers to provide insurance liability
coverage for work-related injuries.
Occupational safety and health regulations are administered sporadically at
best in the Turkish Cypriot area. In both areas, factory inspectors
process complaints and inspect business in order to ensure that
occupational safety laws are observed. Workers in the government-
controlled area can remove themselves from dangerous work conditions
without risking loss of employment. Turkish Cypriot workers who file
complaints do not receive satisfactory legal protection and may face