Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority

Cyprus

Country Report: Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority Last updated: 08/04/22

Author

Cyprus Refugee Council Visit Website

 

Name in English Number of staff Ministry responsible Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision making in individual cases by the determining authority?
Asylum Service

EASO

64

n/a

Ministry of Interior  Yes

Source: Asylum Service.

 

The Asylum Service, a department of the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for the first instance determination of asylum applications, including the examination of the Dublin Regulation criteria. Pursuant to the latest amendments of the Refugees Law the Asylum Service is entitled to issue a return decision together with a negative decision in a single administrative act. The Asylum Service also offers the applicant the option of voluntary return to their country of origin. If no response is received by the rejected applicant about voluntary return or request for assisted voluntary return, then the return decision is referred to Aliens and Immigration Unit (AIU) who remains in charge for execution of return decisions and deportation orders. The Asylum Service is also responsible, by the Refugee Law, for the operation of reception and accommodation centres for asylum seekers, as well as for coordinating all other competent authorities on asylum issues.[1]

In 2020, beyond support staff, the Asylum Service includes the Director, 2 senior coordinators, 9 administrative officers, and 41 asylum officers recruited on 1–2-year contracts with the possibility of renewal under a four-year contract. Of the above, approximately 23 officers work exclusively on the examination of asylum applications whereas the others work on other issues such as Dublin, unaccompanied children, trafficking and emergency arrivals, as well as statistics, tenders, and reception etc. No update was received for 2021.

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO, currently European Union Agency for Asylum)[2] has provided support to the Cyprus asylum system from 2014 onwards, through a series of measures, including deploying or recruiting caseworkers to address the backlog and backlog management. Throughout 2021, EASO deployed 163 different experts in Cyprus, mostly temporary agency workers (105). The majority of them were caseworkers (39) and caseworker officers (13), followed by registration assistants (11), research officers (11) and a series of other support staff (e.g. operation staff, security staff, coordination staff etc.). As of 13 December 2021, a total of 113 EASO experts were deployed in Cyprus, out of which 25 were caseworkers, 12 caseworker officer, 8 registration assistants and 8 research officers.[3]

In most cases, the Asylum Service decides independently without interference from the Ministry of Interior. However, from time to time the Minister of Interior will have input in setting the policy for asylum seekers from specific countries of origin such as when there is an influx of asylum seekers from a country in conflict (i.e. Iraq, Syria). From mid-2019 onwards, the Ministry of Interior played a major role in asylum issues, including regarding the determination of the countries to be included in the safe countries list. All the decisions taken by Asylum Service caseworkers and EASO case workers on asylum claims need to be confirmed by the Head of the Asylum Service.[4] In practice this is done on his/her behalf.

There is currently no formal quality assurance unit established at the Asylum Service. While discussions have started on establishing such a unit, they have been stalled due to a lack of capacity and discussions on the nature of the quality assurance work. However, part of the responsibility introduced for team leaders is to monitor the consistency of decisions of junior staff.

[1] EASO, Operating Plan, Cyprus 2022-2024, available at:  https://bit.ly/37ezU8Z.

[2] It should be noted that Regulation 2021/2023 entered into force on 19 January 2022, transforming EASO into the EU Agency for Asylum (EUAA).

[3] Information provided by EASO, 28 February 2022.

[4] ECRE, Asylum authorities: an overview of internal structures and available resources, October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3wSWjU3.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation