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 Turkish Cypriot police forces are directed by military authorities. In general, the police forces of both sides respect the rule of law, but there were occasional instances of abuses by the Republic of Cyprus police.
Both Cypriot economies operate on the basis of free market principles, although in both communities there are significant administrative controls. The government-controlled part of the island has a robust, service-oriented economy, with declining agriculture and manufacturing sectors. Growth in the government-controlled economy is expected to be 4.0 percent. Tourism generates 22 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 26 percent of the labor force. In 1994 per capita income on the Greek Cypriot side was $11,350, inflation less than 5 percent, and unemployment 2.7 percent. The Turkish Cypriot economy, which relies heavily on subsidies from Turkey, is burdened by an overly large public sector. It is basically service oriented, as in the south, but has a relatively smaller tourism base and a larger agricultural sector. Per capita income in the north was less than $3,000 in 1994, a 20 percent decline over 1993 as GDP fell by over 4 percent. Inflation reached 212 percent in 1994 as a result of the drastic devaluation of the Turkish lira. Inflation is forecast to drop to about 80 percent in 1995, and real growth is expected to be positive, at about 2 percent. Significant problems in the Turkish Cypriot economy also included widespread power outages which began in mid-1994 and continued until late April.
The Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot authorities generally respect human rights norms and practices. However, police brutality and discrimination and violence against women continue to be problems.
Although the Turkish Cypriot authorities took positive steps to improve the conditions of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the territory under their control, the treatment of these groups still falls short of Turkish Cypriot obligations under the Vienna III agreement of 1975. The Turkish Cypriot authorities continued to impose significant restrictions on meetings between members of the two communities. Greek Cypriot women are denied the right to pass citizenship to their children if they are married to foreign spouses.
Republic of Cyprus police were also accused of torturing suspected Turkish Cypriot drug smuggler Erkan Egmez. Egmez was arrested October 7 along with eight Greek Cypriots. Charges were dropped against the eight. Egmez appears to have been seriously beaten in the period during and after his arrest and eventually required 10 days of hospitalization. According to some eyewitnesses, hooded police officials continued beating Egmez even as he was being admitted into the hospital. On December 1, the Attorney General ordered Egmez' release after announcing there was insufficient evidence to try the case. The Attorney General has announced that the alleged mistreatment by the police will be investigated by the Republic's ombudsman.
A Greek Cypriot mistakenly arrested in 1994 for bank robbery and allegedly beaten by police settled his case pending before the European Court of Justice. The Government agreed to compensate the individual.
Parliament failed to pass a proposed bill addressing police brutality; the bill was reintroduced in the fall.
There were no public allegations or media reports of police brutality in the Turkish Cypriot community, although credible reports indicate that some detainees received harsh treatment at the hands of police during pretrial detention.
Prison conditions are generally adequate in both communities.
In July Turkish Cypriot police took a prominent religious figure, sheikh Nazim Kibrisi, into custody from a Kyrenia mosque after the sheikh criticized the Turkish Cypriot authorities for their handling of a large forest fire in late June. The sheikh was later released and no charges were filed against him. Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash later expressed regret at the incident.
Exile is specifically prohibited by the Constitution and by the basic law governing the Turkish Cypriot community.
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. Defendants in military courts have all the due process rights available in civilian courts.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
Academic freedom is accorded wide respect throughout the island.
Both Turkish Cypriots residing in the southern part of the island and non-Muslims in the north are allowed to practice their religion. However, Greek Cypriots resident in the Turkish Cypriot-controlled area face significant restrictions on their right to visit an important pilgrimage site in the Karpass, the Apostolos Andreas monastery, and a shortage of priests, despite guarantees in both these regards under the 1975 Vienna III agreement. There was some easing of access to Apostolos Andreas in 1995: in August a group of expatriate Greek Cypriots and American congressmen visited the monastery. A group of 70 Greek Cypriots resident in the government- controlled area visited Apostolos Andreas in November. Also in November, the Turkish Cypriot authorities announced that Greek Cypriots resident in the north would be allowed to visit the monastery on religious holidays.
Turkish Cypriot authorities usually grant the applications of Greek Cypriot residents in the north to visit the government-controlled area. The right to visit the south was expanded in July to allow monthly visits of 5 days per visit. In November this right was further extended to 15 days per month (previous rules allowed only quarterly visits of 7 days per visit). Turkish Cypriot authorities began as well to allow monthly visits of a day for close relatives of Greek Cypriots living in the Karpass. However, implementation of the new regulations has been inconsistent. The applicants must return within the designated period or risk losing their right to return and their property, although this rule is rarely enforced in practice. Also under the new regulations, Turkish Cypriot authorities allow monthly visits by close relatives of Greek Cypriots resident in the north and, as in the past, permit school holiday visits by children under the ages of 16 (male) and 18 (female) residing in the government-controlled area. Turkish Cypriot authorities apply generally similar but slightly looser restrictions to visits by Maronite residents of the north to the government-controlled area and visits by Maronites living in the south to Maronite villages in the north.
Previously, persons of Greek Cypriot or Armenian origin, or even persons having Greek or Armenian names, faced considerable difficulties entering the north. In the summer, the Turkish Cypriots instituted a new policy under which third country nationals of Greek Cypriot origin would be permitted to visit the Turkish Cypriot-controlled areas. Under the new regulation, several groups of Americans of Greek Cypriot origin visited the north during the summer and fall. During the same period, however, implementation of the new procedures was inconsistent, and several persons entitled to cross under the new guidelines were denied permission without apparent cause.
The Turkish Cypriot authorities also stated that Greek Cypriots living in the areas under their control would no longer require police permits for travel to Famagusta or Nicosia. According to the new policy, the areas where travel without prior authorization would be permitted will gradually expand. However, members of the Maronite community living in the north continued to need permits even to visit neighboring villages and are generally denied permission to visit areas in the north other than Morphou and Nicosia.
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 March 1994 assassination of the director of a Greek Cypriot association supporting Kurds in Turkey, the authorities placed significantly tighter controls on the movement of Turkish Cypriots to the areas under their control. 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.
In March the European Court of Human Rights ruled that certain reservations made by Turkey when it acceded to the European human rights convention were invalid. Thus, beginning in September, the Court was scheduled to hear the case of a Greek Cypriot woman who alleged that Turkey is responsible for depriving her of the use of her lands in the Turkish Cypriot-controlled areas.
The 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 resort to utilizing Turkish travel documents instead.
The Government of Cyprus does not accept third-country refugees for resettlement in Cyprus on the grounds that it already has enough responsibilities in caring for those displaced after the 1974 Turkish intervention. All refugee and asylum claimants are referred to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for consideration. The Government has been cooperative in extending residency permission to those with pending applications and does not generally repatriate claimants to their home country.
The Turkish Cypriots elect a leader and a representative body every 5 years or less. In April the Turkish Cypriot voters elected Rauf Denktash in elections deemed by observers to be free and fair. 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 may also 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 participating in the political process. While clearly underrepresented in government, they hold some cabinet-level and other senior positions.
There are no restrictions preventing the formation of human rights groups. Representatives of international human rights organizations have access throughout the island.
The United Nations is engaged in resolving the missing persons dilemma which remained from the 1974 conflict. Both sides have completed submission of their cases to the U.N. Committee on Missing Persons. On October 6, President Clerides announced that his side would not be submitting some of the cases included among the 1,619 persons claimed to be missing, since it was clear that some of them were in fact dead. Both sides have offered to cooperate with a U.S. effort to determine the fates of five American citizens of Greek Cypriot origin who disappeared in the 1974 conflict.
Throughout Cyprus, women generally have the same legal status as men. While legal provisions in both communities requiring equal pay for men and women performing the same job are effectively enforced, women disproportionately fill lower paying jobs.
In the Greek Cypriot community, women face discrimination that denies them the ability to pass on citizenship to their children if they marry foreign spouses. Under existing Cypriot law, only a Greek Cypriot male may transmit citizenship to his children automatically or obtain expeditious naturalization for his foreign spouse.
In the Turkish Cypriot community, women face discrimination in divorce proceedings with regard to property acquired during the marriage.
Republic of Cyprus law forbids forced prostitution. However, there continue to be allegations of forced prostitution in the Greek Cypriot community, generally from East Asian or Eastern European night club performers. To date there have been few arrests since the women, fearing retaliation by their employers, generally do not bring charges. There are also continuing allegations that Cyprus is a transit point for trafficking in women. Both government and non-governmental authorities believe, however, that this problem abated considerably in 1994 and 1995.
Reports on mistreatment of maids are frequent in the Greek Cypriot press. These reports usually involve allegations that maids, usually from East or South Asia, have been forced to work under inhuman circumstances. While these women generally receive fair treatment when their cases come before the courts, many women do not file charges due to fear of retribution from their employers.
In the Turkish Cypriot community, union officials have alleged that various firms have been successful in establishing "company" organizations and then applying pressure on workers to join these unions. Officials of independent labor unions have also 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. There are no complaints outstanding against the Government of Cyprus.
In both communities, trade unions freely and regularly take stands on public policy issues affecting workers and maintain their independence from the authorities. Two of the major trade unions, one in each community, are closely affiliated with political parties. Both of the remaining major unions are independent.
All workers have the right to strike, and several strikes, usually of short duration, occurred. In the northern part of the island, however, a court ruling from 1978 gives employers an unrestricted right to hire replacement workers in the event of a strike, effectively 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 rarely used.
Unions in both parts of Cyprus are able to affiliate with international trade union organizations.
Small export processing zones exist in Larnaca Port and Famagusta, but the laws governing working conditions and actual practice are the same as those outside the zones.
The legislated minimum wage in the Turkish Cypriot area, while subject to frequent review because of high inflation, is approximately $180 per month (9 million Turkish lira) as of mid-1995. This amount is not adequate to support a worker and family, although most workers earn more than the minimum wage.
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 in the area under Turkish Cypriot control. There are frequent allegations that such workers are subject to mistreatment, including nonpayment of wages and threats of deportation.
In the Greek Cypriot community, the standard workweek is an average of 39 1/2 hours in the private sector. In the public sector, it is 37 1/2 hours during the winter and 35 hours in the summer. In 1992, however, Greek Cypriot unions won concessions that will reduce the workweek for most blue collar workers by one-half hour per year until 1997 when a 38- hour workweek will be in place for most sectors of the economy. In the Turkish Cypriot community, the standard workweek is 38 hours in winter and 36 hours in summer. Government labor inspectors effectively enforce these laws.
Greek Cypriot labor union leaders have complained that occupational and safety standards lack important safeguards. Factories are typically licensed by municipalities rather than by the Government, resulting in an uneven application of environmental and work safeguards. While a proposed bill to harmonize health and safety standards with those of the European Union failed to win approval in 1995, it continues to receive widespread support and is expected to pass in 1996.
Occupational safety and health regulations are administered at best sporadically in the Turkish Cypriot area. In both areas, a factory inspector processes complaints and inspects business in order to ensure that occupational safety laws are observed. Turkish Cypriot workers who file complaints do not receive satisfactory legal protection and may face dismissal.