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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 09-10-02

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, has asked Turkey to establish an effective national human rights institution and to create and implement a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation.

    Commissioner Hammarberg published on Thursday reports on these issues based on a mission from 28 June to 3 July during which he visited Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara. With the reports and their recommendations, he also made public the written comments by the Turkish government.

    According to a press release issued by the Commissioners press office, Hammarberg is concerned that the authorities do not officially recognise the existence of any minority groups other than those of Armenians, Greeks and Jews and recommends efforts to establish a genuine dialogue with all minority groups.

    Hammarberg is concerned about a continued tendency to marginalise religious minority groups and urges the authorities to promote awareness among the general public of the value of a multicultural society. The Commissioner notes with interest the latest legislative measures on the protection of property rights of non-Muslim minority foundations. However, he identifies remaining shortcomings which necessitate further action in order to fully incorporate the European Court of Human Rights case law in the relevant legislation and practice.

    The report focuses also on the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs), mainly of Kurdish origin. The authorities are urged to accelerate and ensure the effective reparation of the IDPs, including enabling them to exercise their right to voluntary return, voluntary resettlement or local integration. The Commissioner recommends that the system of village guards be abolished and that further efforts be made to complete the clearance of the mined areas, especially those from or near the IDPs areas of origin.

    Commissioner Hammarberg notes with concern the marginalisation of Roma, their serious difficulties in enjoying effectively certain social and civil rights, and instances of violence by police and non-state actors. The adoption of effective policies is recommended in order to stamp out all kinds of discrimination against Roma, to ensure proper housing and effective protection of their cultural heritage.

    He recommends also the prompt establishment of an effective national human rights institution, the creation and implementation of a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, the ratification of Protocol N 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights and Turkeys accession to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

    In the report on asylum seekers and refugees, the Commissioner welcomes the plan to adopt new asylum legislation and calls upon the European and international community to assist Turkey in managing migration flows. He recommends that domestic definitions of asylum seekers and refugees be aligned with international standards and that steps be taken to identify better the asylum seekers in the flow of mixed migration. The necessity to strengthen and enhance the authorities cooperation with UNHCR in Turkey is also underlined in the report.

    The Commissioner calls on the Turkish authorities to review the accelerated asylum procedure system in line with Council of Europe standards. Furthermore he recommends that clear instructions be given to all border officials and their training be reinforced to ensure that potential asylum seekers, also in places of detention, are properly informed of their rights.

    While welcoming the measures under way to create regional reception centers, the Commissioner urges the authorities to improve asylum seekers and refugees access to health care and ensure their access to work. He recommends the enhancement of efforts securing dignified living conditions for all detained asylum seekers, while detention should be the exception and for the shortest possible time.

    Commending the special care unaccompanied asylum-seeking children receive in Turkey, the Commissioner recommends that the benefit of doubt in age assessment be applied, that children be well informed in a language they understand and assigned individually a personal guardian. In addition, medical service and education should be improved and the effective application of the principle of the best interest of the child in refugee law and policy should be ensured.

    Whilst welcoming the Turkish authorities action against trafficking in human beings Commissioner Hammarberg recommends prompt adoption of the new draft action plan, paying special attention to the need to improve identification of victims among refugees, notably at places of entry. The government is reminded of the importance of ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

    Finally, the Commissioner calls upon the authorities to increase interaction with non-governmental organizations specialized in asylum-seekers protection, in view of the preparation of the new asylum legislation.


    From October 5, Cyprus will gradually begin receiving the vaccine for influenza H1N1, Minister of Health Christos Patsalides announced, adding that vaccinations will begin after October 15, when the European Pharmaceutical Organisation will give the final approval for the vaccine.

    In statements on Thursday, Patsalides said it was not easy for Cyprus to be in the first phase of countries to receive the vaccine because it is a small country with a small population, adding that the government has estimated to receive vaccines for 400,000 people, which covers 50% of the population.

    Patsalides said the vaccination will begin with the most vulnerable groups of people and the Ministry will cooperate with the Pancyprian Medical Association and has mapped out a plan to make sure vaccinations will cover the island.

    Asked what will happen if the World Health Organisation does not secure the safety of the vaccination, Patsalides said that every country has its own safety measures and for this reason every country will be able to use its own criteria of national security to use the vaccine.


    Minister of Finance Charilaos Stavrakis and Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Ploutarchos Sakellaris signed an agreement of guarantees on Thursday, providing for a loan of 30 million EUR from the EIB to the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC).

    The agreement was signed on the sidelines of a meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers, which concludes today in the southern coastal town of Limassol.

    Speaking after the signing of the agreement, Stavrakis said the EIB ``continuously funds important Cypriot companies of the public and the private sector,`` and referred to a pioneering loan for small and medium sized enterprises worth 228 million euro, as well as the signing of a loan of 60 million euro on Wednesday for the construction of an aeolian park by a private company.

    Stavrakis explained that the new agreement is a continuation of previous loans to the EAC.

    Sakellaris said ``the sector of energy is very important for us at the EIB and we support it and will continue to support it in Cyprus.``


    Local hand-made lace, known as lefkaritiko, indigenous to the village of Lefkara, in Larnaka district, is officially inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.

    Mayor of Lefkara, Andreas Soseilos, has told CNA that he was informed by telephone on Thursday that lefkaritiko is among the 76 elements inscribed on 30 September on UNESCOs Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, according to the relevant UNESCO committee.

    The request to include lefkaritiko lace was made one and a half years ago by the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Cyprus in cooperation with Lefkara Municipality.

    These 76 inscriptions were decided by the 24 member states of the Intergovernmental Committee of UNESCO for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage, in its 4th session in Abu Dhabi.

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