Cyprus: Police abuse and arbitrary detention against Mr. Doros Polykarpou

20/08/2019
Urgent Appeal

CYP 001 / 0819 / OBS 067
Police Abuse / Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Cyprus
August 20, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cyprus.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), about the police abuse including the arbitrary detention against Mr. Doros Polykarpou, Executive Director of KISA, a migrant support NGO in Cyprus.

According to the information received, on August 2, 2019, Mr. Doros Polykarpou was arrested by the police in front of the KISA office. At approximately 10:30am, Mr. Polykarpou heard a police officer shouting at a 16-year-old boy who was driving a motorcycle. The scene happened outside of KISA premises. When Mr. Polykarpou approached the young man to ask if he needed any help, the police officer ordered him to leave immediately and when he refused, saying it was a public place and he had every right to stay and watch what was happening, the police officer said Mr. Polykarpou was being arrested for obstructing the work of the police. The police officer also threatened to arrest all other KISA staff who were present, in spite of assurances of Mr. Polykarpou that there was no intention to hinder the work of the police.

The police officer then alerted his colleagues, who arrived on the spot, and arrested Mr. Polykarpou. The latter was taken to Lycavitos police station, and charged with “obstruction of police work” and “attempt to escape” [1]. He was subsequently released. KISA filed a complaint over Mr. Polykarpou’s treatment, adding that the organisation had previously filed a complaint against the same police officer for the illegal and violent arrest of a migrant in Solomou Square on June 1, 2019, followed by aracial profiling as well as the violation of all his procedural rights.

The Observatory expresses its concern due to the fact that this attack against Mr. Polykarpou is not an isolated incident but is part of a broader trend of acts of intimidation and retaliation against KISA for its work supporting migrants’ rights and defending human rights. Such incident is the sixth similar attack against members of KISA since 2010. All the five previous cases of criminalisation ended up by an acquittal in the court [2] .

The Observatory expresses its deep concern for the situation of Mr. Doros Polykarpou and urges the authorities to put an end to any kind of harassment against him and against all human rights defenders in Cyprus.

The Observatory recalls that Cyprus has an international obligation to protect human rights defenders, with a specific emphasis on preventing abuse of power by law enforcement officers. In certain cases where police officers repeatedly commit the crime of abuse of power with no adequate punishment, an environment of impunity is created, with dire consequences for the rule of law and human rights.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Cyprus asking them to:

i. Put an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Doros Polykarpou and all human rights defenders in Cyprus and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances;

ii. Comply with all the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 12(2) and 18(2);

iii. Ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international human rights instruments ratified by Cyprus.

Addresses:

· President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades Email: info@presidency.gov.cy Fax: +357 22 663799
· Minister of Justice Mr. George L. Savvides Email: registry@mjpo.gov.cy Fax: +357 22518356
· Police Service of Cyprus, Chief of Police Kypros Michaelides, Email: police@police.gov.cy Fax: +4122808598
· Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the EU, Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou, Email: cy.perm.rep@mfa.gov.cy Fax: +32 2 7354552
· Permanent Mission of Cyprus to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador George Kasoulides, Email: pm.geneva@mfa.gov.cy Fax:+41227910084
· Embassy of Cyprus in Brussels, Belgium, Ambassador Antonis Grivas Εmail: cyprusembassybe@mfa.gov.cy Fax +322650 06 20

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Cyprus in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, August 20, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] “Obstructing police work”: imprisonment not exceeding one month, or to a fine not exceeding one hundred fifty pounds, or both. “Attempt to escape lawful arrest”: imprisonment up to five years.
[2] The previous charges included: Illegal fundraising, disobeying court order and receiving stolen goods, resisting arrest and causing bodily harm to police officer, using megaphone, disturbance of public order, conspiracy for committing an offence, intervention in the court procedures, rioting, threatening to commit violence. All the charges were later dropped by the court. See for instance Observatory Press Release, May 7, 2012; Observatory Joint Press Release, June 5, 2012 and Observatory Joint Open Letter to the Authorities, November 23, 2012.

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