21 March 2014 17:28

Three migrant mothers held in detention at Menoyia were freed under conditional release, Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos said on Thursday.
Two women are from the Cameroon and the other a Chinese national. All three have children - the youngest of which is just 18 months old.
Hasikos said the decision to release them came after the trio had cooperated with police over the issue of their deportation.
He said the Migration Department has already issued new conditions for their deportation because they agreed to facilitate the process.
The move comes after the government came under fire from Amnesty International over the way it separated families and held migrants for lengthy periods in detention.
"The ministry states that the detention of migrants and especially parents for the purposes of deportation is a measure taken as the last resort to ensure that they leave the country," said Hasikos.
He said detention only applies after all other methods have been "exhausted taking into consideration each case individually".
Before this decision human rights activists said they would stage a hunger strike in Nicosia on Sunday to demand the immediate release of the mothers held at Menoyia Detention Centre.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily yesterday, President of Cyprus Stop Trafficking Androulla Christofidou Henriques said the protest aimed to bring an end to Cyprus' 'inhuman' immigration policies that allow the separation of children from their mothers.
 "Depriving a child of its mother is one of the worst forms of abuse. These are not isolated incidents as there have been many similar cases in Cyprus where mothers are separated from their children for long periods of time."
Earlier this week Hasikos attempted to downplay a damning Amnesty International report on Cyprus human right issues saying it contained "inaccuracies and sweeping generalisations".
A section of the report focused on the detention of female migrants at Menoyia -in particular mothers who have been separated from their young children.
Head of migrant support group KISA Doros Polykarpou said he would like to see an end to the unfair migrant policy practiced by the state.
"The policy of separating parents from their children is not just an infringement of EU directives and policy but also goes against our national laws."
According to Polykarpou, based on European regulations, detention of migrants and asylum seekers should only be a last resort.
"This is not the case in Cyprus and more importantly the authorities completely disregard EU regulations that state the best interest of the child must always be considered in cases where the detainee is a parent.
"When a mother or father is detained the child pays the price and the situation is even more serious when dealing with a single parent."
Commenting on the minister's rejection of the Amnesty International report Polykarpou said: "It is unbelievable that the authorities think they can dismiss findings in a report by the world's most recognised and respected human rights organisations."
From January 1, 2013 to date, 5369 decrees were issued for deportation/detention, 4537 in 2013 and 832 in 2014.
Some 36 of those issued in 2013 and 3 of those issued in 2014 involved mothers.  For most cases, detention was not only for deportation purposes but also committing a crime.


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