Cyprus was on Monday told to stop detaining and separating migrant women from their children. Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks said he was “very concerned” at reports that this practice was continuing, adding that it was irreconcilable with “Cyprus’ legal obligation to ensure the best interests of the child and must be ended”.
“Depriving migrants, especially women accompanied by dependent children, of their liberty without examining alternatives to detention is not in line with international human rights standards,” he said.
And he added: “I urge the government of Cyprus to put an end to these practices and to fully align law and practice with international standards. This effort would highly benefit from taking duly into account the views of the Ombudsman, the Child Commissioner and the civil society with expertise in this area.”
Last month, three migrant mothers held in detention at Menoyia were freed under conditional release after they cooperated with police over their deportation.
This came after the government was criticised by Amnesty International over the way it separated families and held migrants for lengthy periods of detention. Local human rights activists had branded the policy as inhuman.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily on Monday night, head of migrant support group KISA Doros Polycarpou said he knew of two mothers of young children - one from Cameroon and one from Sri Lanka - at Menoyia, though there could be more.
“There should be transparency. We should be able as an organisation to visit the women detained with the written consent of the police.”
Polycarpou said it was unacceptable decisions were taken to detain mothers in the absence of the Ombudsman, the Child Commissioner or people with expertise.
“It is important to have a policy so that not only these two women are released but that this phenomenon stops.”