ECRI concerned over lack of activities by Cyprus’ Commissioner for Administration to support vulnerable groups

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has noted “with concern” that the Office of the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights in Cyprus has not carried out any activities aimed at supporting vulnerable groups.

ECRI also said in its conclusions on the implementation of two of its recommendations, included in its report on Cyprus (fifth monitoring cycle) published on 7 June 2016, that it is encouraged to learn that the development of a national integration plan for migrants, in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, is in the early stages. However, since no draft document or proposal relating to the content of the future integration plan is available, ECRI can only consider that its recommendation has not yet been implemented, it added.

In its report published in 2016, ECRI strongly recommended that the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights is consulted on all appointments of staff to her office, thereby contributing to her independence, and that the authorities allocate an adequate budget for her to carry out her functions properly.

As it is noted, according to the Constitution and the Public Service Law, the recruitment of civil servants to all public services including independent authorities such as the Office of the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights is the responsibility of the Public Service Commission. Although the specific qualifications required by staff in her office are drafted by the Commissioner for Administration, it appears that she is still not consulted on appointments. Therefore, this part of the recommendation has not been implemented, ECRI added.

As concerns the budget, the Office of the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights has its own separate budget which is controlled and managed by the Commissioner, it is noted. ECRI was informed by the authorities that the Council of Ministers has approved the establishment of four additional posts in the Office of the Commissioner for Administration for 2019. The operating budget in 2017 was slightly increased from 2016, but no further data is available since then.

ECRI “notes with concern that the Office of the Commissioner for Administration has not carried out any activities aimed at supporting vulnerable groups or communication activities, and has not issued any publications or reports, including annual reports, or recommendations on discrimination issues since 2016”, adding that it will follow up on these matters in its sixth monitoring cycle.

Overall, ECRI considers that its recommendation has been partially implemented.

Moreover, in its report on Cyprus published on 7 June 2016, ECRI strongly recommended that the authorities develop a new integration plan for non-nationals, including foreign domestic workers, refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection and other migrants and that this should be done in close cooperation with the UNHCR, relevant NGOs and migrant associations, and should be accompanied by an awareness-raising campaign to inform the public, as well as employers and financial institutions, about the rights of beneficiaries of international protection.

As it is noted, according to information provided by the authorities, a call for proposals for a National Plan on Integration of Migrants for the years 2020-2022 was published in January 2018 with the deadline set for September 2018.

In February 2019, ECRI was informed that the Civil Registry and Migration Department will enter into an agreement with a joint venture for the drafting of the above-mentioned plan as well as its promotion and implementation, following consultations with government bodies, local authorities, NGOs, international organisations, immigrant organisations and academics.

ECRI said it is encouraged to learn that the development of a national integration plan for migrants, in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, is in the early stages. However, since no draft document or proposal relating to the content of the future integration plan is available, ECRI can only consider that its recommendation has not yet been implemented.

The ECRI 2016 Report on Cyprus includes a total of 20 recommendations.

Source: Cyprus News Agency