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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-02-03

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Sunday, February 3, 2002


  • [01] Rights expert heads UN mission to Iraq
  • [02] 'Stay at school' mum will be dealt with, says Ministry
  • [03] Conference on colonialism
  • [04] Fulbright bi-communal youth camps
  • [05] Kophinou villagers protest over gypsy move
  • [06] Maid reported missing

  • [01] Rights expert heads UN mission to Iraq

    By Jennie Matthew

    A CYPRIOT human rights expert will visit Iraq this month on behalf of the Commission for Human Rights for the first time in nine years.

    Andreas Mavromattis, Special Rapporteur for Iraq and twice Cyprus's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will head the three- or four-day fact-finding mission to Baghdad between February 11 and 15.

    It will be the first time since his appointment in December 1999 that he has been given permission to travel to the country.

    Iraq has refused visas for the Special Rapporteur for the past six years. His predecessor, former Dutch Foreign Minister Max Van der Stool, headed the last mission nine years ago.

    “I do not know what I'm going to face when I get there in terms of co- operation and the situation in general. But I will do my level best to overcome whatever difficulties there might be to carry out my task,” Mavromattis told the Sunday Mail.

    One of his aims is to talk to the officers responsible for dealing with the hundreds of thousands of people who vanished from Iraq during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War and from Kuwait before the Gulf War.

    He hopes to have a series of meetings with the Foreign and Health Ministers, senior officials such as the President of the Supreme Court or the Criminal Appeals Court and visit Baghdad prison.

    Upon his return Mavromattis will submit a report to the UN Commission for Human Rights in March-April and to the UN General Assembly in November.

    “My only preoccupation is to try and make a success of it. My intention is not merely to report the situation but to make suggestions. I hope we can co-operate and we can sit down and discuss problems that they face and that they are willing to engage in a dialogue to study my suggestions and try and do something about it,” he said.

    The Iraqi Foreign Ministry gave their permission for the trip a few days ago, giving him blanket permission to do and see what he wants.

    Mavromattis is being sent as an independent expert. The UN covers his expenses, but he is not a salaried employee.

    Similar missions have taken him to Iran, Chile, Jordan, South Africa and Lesotho.

    “In situations in the past, like in Chile, we thought that if we saved one person from the gallows then we had succeeded.”

    “There is hardly a country that doesn't have human rights problems, be they yesterday or today,” he added.

    Mavromattis will fly to Amman from where he hopes to catch a connecting flight or make the 10-hour journey to Baghdad by road.

    A Commission desk officer for Iraq and an interpreter will accompany him.

    Mavromattis is an elected member of the UN Commission against Torture. A former judge, he was President of the UN Human Rights Committee for 10 years and a member for 20.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] 'Stay at school' mum will be dealt with, says Ministry

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE EDUCATION Ministry has decided to take measures to deal with the mother of a six-year-old girl who has not left her daughter's side since she started primary school in October, Education Ministry Permanent Secretary Petros Kareklas said yesterday.

    Although mothers are allowed to accompany their children to school and to sit in class, this is generally only for a short period of time. Kareklas said there has never before been a case in which a parent has continued to come to school this late in the academic year, and that something must be done to resolve the situation.

    He would not specify what the Ministry intended to do, saying only that it would confer with the Head of Primary Education tomorrow to discuss all possible options.

    “Our main concern is for the child's well-being and we will do everything to ensure that her education and emotional state are not jeopardised,” Kareklas told the Sunday Mail. “Everything else comes second.”

    He added that the Ministry's concern was for the child, not the mother, and that everything would be done to ensure her happiness.

    On Friday Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said that the mother would be refused entry to the school from February 11 as her presence was causing problems for the other pupils, teachers, parents and the child in question.

    The child's mother has said that she will sue the Ministry if this happens, and that they would have to physically drag her away. “My child will not go to school alone,” she told CyBC radio. “I was given permission by the Ministry to accompany her for several hours a day, which I will do. Had things been left the way they were, my child would have adjusted eventually. Now that all of this has happened, the child has been disrupted and is feeling very unsettled.”

    Teachers say that the mother's presence disrupts the rest of the class because the child constantly cries if she cannot see her mother and gets up to find her. This in turn affects the teacher's lesson and the other pupils' schooling.

    Parents of the other children have threatened not to send them to school tomorrow, or to transfer them to another school, if the Ministry does not take a firm stand and deal with the situation.

    The mother insists that she is not disruptive and that she is not even inside the classroom.

    “I wait outside the classroom, in the cold and rain. I do not bother anyone and never enter the actual class,” she said.

    Ministry officials are worried that the child is missing a lot of lessons because if she or her mother are unwell neither shows up for school.

    “They are a package. One doesn't show up without the other,” a teacher said, “and because of this, the progress the girl has made is minimal.”

    The child is reported to be so dependent on her mother that she did not go to nursery or pre-school. When the time came for her to start primary school her mother applied for a deferral, which was granted. The following year she again applied for a year's deferral, but it was refused.

    Kareklas confirmed that deferral was a legal procedure that children could go through. He said each case was assessed by a committee of specialists which made a decision based on the criteria involved.

    “The girl in question was obviously deferred for a year based on specific reasons,” he said. “However this year she was considered mature enough to enter the school system, which is why her mother's application was turned down.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Conference on colonialism

    INTERCOLLEGE organised a conference on Britain and Cyprus: Colonialism and its Impact this weekend, attended by academics from Greece, Cyprus, Germany, Iran, Malta, Turkey, the US and the UK.

    The two-day event was the brainchild of Assistant Professor at Intercollege Hubert Faustmann.

    The conference was opened by Intercollege Dean Nicos Peristianis, President of the Cyprus Historical Society Aristides Koudounaris, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, and British High Commissioner Lyn Parker.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Fulbright bi-communal youth camps

    THE Cyprus Fulbright Commission and the United States Embassy are sponsoring three bi-communal summer youth camps in the US this year.

    This is an all-expense paid opportunity for young Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots aged 15-17 to spend two to three weeks in a bicommunal setting.

    Workshops will consist of outdoor recreation, creative problem-solving, co- operative decision-making and effective teamwork.

    For more information on how to apply call the Fulbright Commission on 22- 669757, extension 32 or 21, Monday to Friday between 10am and 2pm, before March 8.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Kophinou villagers protest over gypsy move

    KOPHINOU residents are angry at the Interior Ministry's decision to set up temporary prefabricated houses for Turkish Cypriot gypsies in their village, and say they may hold a protest demonstration outside the Ministry.

    The decision to relocate the gypsies came after Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou visited their living quarters in Limassol on Friday, and decided that their homes were unsuitable for habitation.

    While the area undergoes a clean-up, and work starts on rebuilding the houses, Christodoulou pointed out that Kophinou in the Larnaca District could be used as a temporary base for their relocation.

    But the village residents are totally opposed to any such plan and said yesterday that they already had enough trouble with the gypsies living there.

    The villagers, headed by the village council leader Yiannis Loutsios, said that women and children already wander around the community begging for food and money so they can survive in the government tents they live in.

    “This time we will not accept a repeat of the same phenomenon, much less their temporary relocation to prefabricated homes,” the villagers said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Maid reported missing

    A 40-year-old Sri Lankan housemaid has been reported missing by her employer, police said yesterday.

    Andreas Solomou, from Peyia in the Paphos district, told police that Wijetunga Arachchilage Tushta had left her workplace several days ago and had not been seen since.

    Tushta was described by her employer as being 1.55 metres tall, with black hair and of average build.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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