The Aliens and Immigration Law, since the transposition of the Returns Directive in 2011, refers to alternatives to detention and states that detention is used as a last resort, yet alternatives to detention are not listed and the relevant article has never been implemented in practice.1 As of October 2016, the recently amended Refugee Law includes a non-exhaustive list of recommended alternatives to detention:2
Regular reporting to the authorities;
Deposit of a financial guarantee;
Obligation to stay at an assigned place, including a reception centre; and
However there are no guidelines or procedures in law or policy or practice to examine the necessity and proportionality of detention in order to determine if detention is indeed the last resort. Due to this it is not clear how alternatives will be implemented and to date of publishing there are no cases to give such indication.
The decision to detain is not based on an assessment of the asylum seeker’s individual circumstances or the risk of absconding, and the CRMD issues and renews detention and deportation orders simultaneously, without considering less restrictive alternatives to immigration detention.3 This applies for all detainees, including asylum seekers whose case is still pending. The Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, after a visit to Cyprus in December 2015, urged Cyprus to:
“[S]trictly limit the practice of migrant detention and to enhance its law and practice concerning the application of alternatives to detention in order to avoid excessively lengthy deprivations of liberty and the suffering of migrants.”4
At the end of 2015, the project “Promoting and Establishing Alternatives to Immigration Detention in Cyprus” was initiated by FWC under European Programme on Integration and Migration (EPIM) funding, with the aim of identifying and promoting alternatives to detention that can be implemented in the Cypriot context. The findings of FWC’s research show inter alia that the existing framework needs to be reformed so as to create an effective and functioning mechanism which will primarily safeguard the rights of irregular migrants, as well as asylum seekers, protect them from the risk of arbitrary detention and provide less strict and effective alternative measures through a clearly established procedure and specific criteria. The report also emphasises the need for an individualised evaluation for each case, based on pre-determined procedures and criteria, and identifies a range of alternative measures that may be imposed instead of detention. Finally, the project recommends the adoption of the revised Community Assessment and Placement (CAP) Model,5 and provides an example of how it can be adjusted and implemented in the Cypriot context, emphasising the need for a holistic approach that will lead to case resolution.
In an effort to continue the conversation on alternatives to detention in the Cypriot context a pilot-project is implemented starting March 2016 by FWC under EPIM funding. The pilot-project will build on the work carried out under the previous project by promoting the adoption of the Revised Community Assessment and Placement (CAP) model within the procedures followed in Cyprus, with the aim to promote alternatives to detention, as well as the overall resolution of cases. This will be carried out by offering working examples of case management and trainings on the model.
- 1. Article 18ΠΣΤ Aliens and Immigration Law.
- 2. Article 9ΣΤ(3) Refugee Law.
- 3. See FWC, Promoting and Establishing Alternatives to Immigration Detention in Cyprus, November 2016, available in Greek at: http://bit.ly/2kAN5aG, 44-45 See also summary in English at: http://bit.ly/2jEHGLz.
- 4. Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Report by Nils Muižnieks following his visit to Cyprus (7 to 11 December 2015) (hereafter “Cyprus report”), CommDH(2016)16, 31 March 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2jm0zlC, para. 1.3.
- 5. See International Detention Coalition, The Revised Community Assessment and Placement (CAP) Framework, available at: http://idcoalition.org/cap/.