CoE Ministers’ Deputies call on Turkey to provide information regarding missing persons in Cyprus

The Ministers’ Deputies of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers have reiterated their call on Turkey to provide the Committee of Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) information relating to persons missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

In decisions after the 1362nd (Human Rights) meeting of the Ministers Deputies, regarding supervision of the execution of the European Court’s judgments, specifically concerning cases H46-30 Cyprus v. Turkey (Application No. 25781/94) and H46-31 Varnava and others v. Turkey (Application No. 16064/90), the Deputies recall the important humanitarian issues which arise in respect of the missing persons and underline that, due to the passage of time, it remains urgent for the Turkish authorities to advance their proactive approach to providing the Committee on Missing Persons with all necessary assistance so that it can continue to achieve tangible results as quickly as possible.

In this respect, they welcome the information submitted by the Turkish authorities that in June 2019 they provided the CMP with access to 30 additional suspected burial sites in military areas situated in the northern part of Cyprus, with the timing of excavations to be decided by the CMP, and encourage the Turkish authorities to continue with this approach and to provide the CMP with unhindered access to all areas which could contain the remains of missing persons.

They underline as with the passage of time witness testimony becomes scarcer, the CMP urgently needs documentary evidence to allow it to continue identifying possible burial sites, they therefore reiterate their call on the Turkish authorities to advance their efforts to provide the CMP proprio motu and without delay with all information at their disposal relating to burial sites and any other places where remains might be found, including information in military archives.

The Deputies note with interest the information provided by the Turkish authorities on the progress of the investigations conducted by the Missing Persons Unit (MPU), the conclusions of the final report in the case of Andreas Varnava and the additional resources made available to the MPU, and reiterate their call on the Turkish authorities to ensure the effectiveness of the MPU’s investigations, as well as their rapid finalisation, and invited them to continue to transmit to the Committee of Ministers information on the progress of the investigations and their outcome, in particular in the case of Savvas Apostolides.

They furthermore insist again firmly on the unconditional obligation of Turkey to pay the just satisfaction awarded by the European Court in the judgment Cyprus v. Turkey of 12 May 2014 without further delay and decided to resume consideration of this issue at their 1377th meeting (June 2020).

The Deputies decided to resume consideration of the issue of the missing persons, together with the individual measures in the Varnava case, at their 1390th meeting in December 2020.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Since then, the fate of hundreds of people remains unknown. A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.

Source: Cyprus News Agency