Conditions in detention facilities


Country Report: Conditions in detention facilities Last updated: 09/05/24


Cyprus Refugee Council Visit Website

The following section summarises findings of regular monitoring visits by the Cyprus Refugee Council in Menogia throughout 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 as well as reports from other monitoring bodies as cited.


Overall living conditions

State of the facilities

Menogia Detention Centre, as well as the holding cells, are under the management of the Police, therefore the guards are police officers. In 2023, the staff of Menogia Detention Centre was comprised of 20 police officers working 12-hour shifts in the daytime and 15 officers during the nighttime shift, as well as a 13-person cleaning crew. In addition, the following staff is stationed at Menogia: an examiner of asylum applications of the Asylum Service, a Frontex officer, 3 Immigration liaison officers (one per 12-hour shift during the day), a full-time doctor (working there on weekdays between 08:30am-15:30pm). There are also nurses on a 24-hour basis, including a mental health nurse during office hours. Furthermore, there is a resident psychologist working there three days per week during office hours. Detainees who seek psychiatric assistance, or other specialised medical assistance, must make an appointment with the doctor, who then refers them to the psychiatrist at the General Hospital of Larnaca district if needed.[1]

Currently and continuing from 2022 the Red Cross is implementing a program once a week through which psychology University students provide psychosocial support. In addition, material support is provided, such as clothes donations as well as sanitary products and toiletries.

As part of the Ministry of Education’s fund for Adult Education Centres, there are also service providers such as a dance teacher, and an art teacher once per week, and a gym instructor that visits the centre twice a week.[2]

In recent years, there have been noticeable improvements to the living conditions in Menogia,[3] following recommendations made by the CPT, the Committee against Torture (CAT),[4] and the Ombudsman’s Office. There are thus less complaints about custodial staff behaviour, food, or outdoor access. However, as reported by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, detainees in Menogia complain about the lack of activities, as well as the length of their detention, some of them having being detained in the past.[5] The Commissioner also noted that detainees deprived of their liberty for months without any prospect of either deportation or release do not understand the purpose of their continuous detention and feel treated as criminals.[6] This leads to high levels of stress, and has resulted in several hunger strikes in Menogia in recent years, mostly by irregular migrants and rejected asylum seekers, along with a few asylum seekers.[7]The situation remained the same in 2023.

There are no serious deficiencies as to the sanitary facilities provided, except from occasional reports of some toilets and showers being faulty. Most detainees are satisfied with the general state of the facilities and have mentioned that there is hot water and that they can shower at ease without time restrictions.[8] Overall, the cleanliness of the detention centre seems to be of a decent standard. Cleaners are present in the Centre 7 days a week, and the communal areas such as toilets, showers and TV rooms in each block are cleaned twice daily. Furthermore, prior to 2018, washing machines for clothes operated two or three times a week; however, following, a scabies outbreak, it was decided to give detainees 24/7 access to washing machines.[9]

Since Menogia began operating, there have not been any reports regarding overcrowding. However, the overall capacity was initially deemed to be too high and conditions in the cells/rooms that accommodate detainees are cramped, as there were eight persons/four bunk beds in an 18m2 room. The capacity was reduced from 256 to 128 places, after a CPT recommendation in 2014[10] and the cells/rooms now accommodate four persons with two bunk beds per room.

The provision of clothing in Menogia has improved in recent years, with the Red Cross Cyprus as well as other volunteer organisations providing clothes. Moreover, upon arrival, detainees are provided with a sanitary package, which includes soap, shampoo, razor blades for men and sanitary products for women. However, detainees are expected to pay for their own products, such as shampoos, sanitary products, water and other snacks throughout their time spent there. Police officers provide detainees with the opportunity to fill out a shopping list and officers either make a shopping run or place orders at the nearby market.[11]

Detainees in Menogia including asylum seekers have access to open-air spaces. The size of the outdoor space is approximately the size of a basketball court. At noon, detainees are allowed to spend a minimum of one hour and half in the courtyard; each wing given a different time slot. On the two days a week when the gym instructor goes, detainees may spend more time in the courtyard, as that is where the class takes place. However, according information gathered by the CyRC, not many detainees are interested in attending the gym classes as they take place during the morning when they prefer to sleep almost until noon. According to the staff in Menogia, women detainees are more likely to take the gym classes.[12]

Conditions in the holding cells of the various police stations vary but are overall considered to be sub-standard. In a report issued by the Ombudsman’s Office following a monitoring visit in Oroklini, Larnaca, the conditions were found to be below accepted standards and included issues related to lack of access to outdoor spaces, cleanliness and hygiene facilities, access to information, and access to remedies.[13] A similar report was issued in September 2020, again by the Ombudsman’s Office, based on a monitoring visit of a Pafos police station.[14] The recommendations included not using holding cells for purposes of immigration detention and moving persons to Menogia within 48 hours; increasing access to telephone and online communication; fixing doors to cells to ensure privacy; posting in every cell the rights of detainees; creating an entertainment area; and improving/fixing infrastructure on hygiene facilities. Finally, the report stated that the practice of making detainees clean hygiene facilities must be terminated.

There is no information available whether the above recommendations were taken into consideration. In late 2022, improvements to the conditions in PHC were planned in view of the upcoming CPT monitoring visit to Cyprus, however again it is not yet clear if these have taken place.[15]

Regarding access to open-air spaces for detainees in holding cells, the situation varies. Many lack sufficient open-air spaces and there are reports of detainees having extremely limited time outside. This is especially problematic for detainees during Ramadan, as observed from recent cases in March 2024, as detainees did not have access to sunlight in Lakatamia police holding cells. Furthermore, they do not have any recreational facilities.[16]

Based on feedback from detainees in 2023 there do not seem to have been significant improvements to the conditions in PHC that are commonly used for immigration detention such as no access to open-air spaces, no access to washing machines, and no recreational activities.[17]

In early 2024, the Ombudsman’s Office carried out an unannounced visit to the Limassol police holding cell, under the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture. According to the Report, the holding cells cannot be considered compatible with international standards for the detention of any prisoner. As pointed out in the 17-page report, the detention center remains in a poor state of infrastructure, there is overcrowding, some prisoners share their cell with another person, and there are cases of prisoners sleeping on a mattress on the floor. In the section for immigration detainees, the lighting is insufficient, a fact that is aggravated by the absence of windows in the cells. Furthermore, it is noted that problems in the Limassol detention center were also identified during the visit of the Council of Europe in 2017, which were recorded in a report, however, as it appears, nothing has been done to date. [18]


Menogia detention centre provides detainees with 3 meals a day. Breakfast usually includes toast with butter; lunch typically includes legumes or pasta; and some kind of meat with a side of rice or potatoes is served for dinner.

In Menogia, detainees mentioned that pork is not included in the menu and that the meat provided is mainly chicken.[19] It was also mentioned that, during Ramadan, religious dietary requirements are accommodated. Other dietary needs for medical reasons are also accommodated, although it is not clear if this applies to cases of pregnant women and women breastfeeding, as in recent years there have been no such cases to monitor the issue. Regarding both quality and quantity, the level of satisfaction varied among detainees. Some detainees mentioned that the food tends to be repetitive for prolonged periods of time, with only the side dish varying. In 2020, there were increased complaints regarding food, with reports of finding insects in the salad or tiny stones in dishes with beans. After voicing complaints, the issue was raised with the catering company and in early 2021 detainees noted improvements. Food quality is frequently monitored by the officers receiving it, and all detainee complaints in regards to the quality of the food are addressed. Throughout 2023 no complaints were received from monitoring visits regarding the quality of food.

Some detainees drink tap water that is available at the centre (safe to drink in Cyprus). However, the majority purchase water from a mini market close to the Centre. In 2023, a water fountain was installed in each wing to encourage use of tap water. For purchases outside the Centre, there is a procedure to order items and the costs are covered by the detainees.

Regarding the accommodation of dietary requirements for religious or medical reasons, the situation in holding cells is similar to that in the Menogia detention centre, but quality and quantity varies from one holding cell to another. Regarding, the Police Station in Lakatamia, in 2022, detainees mentioned that they each have a bottle/cup for drinking water. When it ran out, they would have to ask the police officers to refill their bottle/cup. This meant that they either had to shout out to a police officer or ring a buzzer to alert police officers. All detainees mentioned the practice as problematic, while some mentioned that sometimes it took the officers a long time to come and take the bottle/cup or to bring it back filled. However, improvements were made in 2023, in that detainees now have access to a water dispenser all day, as their cells are open almost all day until 10 pm. However, there were times that the water tasted salty, as one detainee mentioned, and thus had to purchase water bottles provided at the police station.



Detainees in Menogia have access to a television located in the communal area, and there are magazines and books provided by the Red Cross Cyprus. However, these are very limited in number and are mostly available in English. Detainees have access to computers in the communal areas.[20] Detainees have access to internet through their mobile phones.[21] Access to WiFi is only available in communal spaces and not in the detainees’ cells. During access to outdoor spaces, detainees can engage in recreational activities such as basketball, football, card playing, chess, and backgammon. Instructors for drawing, dancing, and a physical trainer carry out activities on a weekly basis, however detainees reported either not knowing of these or showed a lack of motivation or interest to attend.

In holding cells there are no entertainment facilitates, no reading materials, computers, or televisions and in most cases no internet access. Phone allowance and hours spent outside of their cells vary. For example detainees are only allowed to use their phones when they are taken out of their cells which in certain Police Stations, like in Paphos district, may be 2 times per day, one hour each, whereas in Lakatamia they are allowed to have their phones on them throughout the day until 10 o’clock in the evening when they lock up their cells.


Health care in detention

According to the Law on Rights of Persons who are Arrested and Detained, a detainee has a right to medical examination, treatment, and monitoring at any time during detention.[22] The relevant law does not limit this right to emergency situations and, from the testimonies of detainees, they seem to indeed have access to medical examinations, treatment, and monitoring in situations which cannot be classified as emergencies. However, the law provides for the criminal prosecution of a detainee who, if it is proven that the detainee has abused the right to medical examinations, treatment and monitoring, i.e. by requesting it without suffering from a health complication requiring medical examination, treatment or monitoring.[23] If a detainee is found guilty of this offence, they are liable to three years in prison, or a fine of up to €5,125.80. In practice it does not seem to be used and the CPT has recommended that it be removed from the Law. It has yet to be removed.

Upon entry in Menogia, detainees undergo medical examinations for specific contagious diseases e.g., tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis tests, but not a full assessment of physical and mental health issues. In 2023, the CPT expressed concerns about the completeness of the medical files held at the Menogia Detention Centre, which could compromise their reliability. Specifically, the report mentions medical related incidents that have not been included in the medical file; the description of injuries omitting relevant details (such as, its location and dimension); a lack of detail about the origin of the injury by the foreign detainee; or the doctor’s opinion about the consistency between the injury and the allegation. Also, from the small sample of files assessed by the delegation’s medical doctor it transpired that the medical examination at admission, besides not revealing injuries on covered parts of the body was also insufficiently thorough; in one case, a pre-existing psychiatric illness had not been detected. In addition, the delegation observed that the medical notes were cursory, at times consisting of no more than one single word. An extra complication is that it appears that a detained person may have two distinct medical files and none of the medical information from the first medical file is included into the second file, and no cross reference was made in either file.[24]

The Medical Centre of Menogia is staffed with a General Practitioner on a full-time basis, from Monday to Friday from 07:30am to 15:00pm. In addition, two nurses, a general nurse, and a mental health nurse are present at the Centre 24 hours per day daily, in shifts. A clinical psychologist was appointed by the Department of Mental Health Services, working there 3 days a week during office hours. As of the beginning of 2022 and continuing until today, a group of psychology university students visit the centre every Monday from 09:00am-17:00, providing psychosocial support as part of a Red Cross initiative. In cases of emergencies, or where it is deemed necessary, detainees are transferred to Larnaca General Hospital or the old Hospital in Larnaca where psychiatrists and dentists are located. If a detainee is in need of a mental health practitioner, they must be referred to one by the on-site GP. During transportation, detainees are handcuffed, apart from certain cases of persons with disabilities, usually for the entire duration of transportation, and there is no indication that an individual security assessment is carried out on the necessity of this measure. Depending on the examining doctor, they may also be handcuffed during the medical examination, and usually a policeman or policewoman – depending on the gender of the detainee – is present or close by throughout the medical examination.

According to the law, any communication between the detainee and members of staff or police for purposes of medical examinations is deemed an “important” interaction and, therefore, authorities are obliged to ensure communication in a language which the detainee understands.[25] Based on the testimonies of detainees, due to the lack of interpreters available during the medical examination, other detainees are requested to serve as interpreters.[26] Although detainees seem willing to provide such assistance, in view of the sensitivity of medical information, it cannot be considered to satisfy the requirement of the law.

For a detainee to receive medical care and be examined by a doctor during detention, a written request must be lodged on their behalf. These requests, if submitted in English or Greek, are attended to in a timely manner and with a prompt response, and there were no complaints regarding the time it took for a request to be processed and for the detainee to see a doctor. There is no available information of anyone attempting to submit such a request in another language so as to know if it would be accepted and if there are procedures in place to have it translated. Most detainees who do not write in Greek or English, or who are illiterate, will ask a fellow detainee or an officer to fill this request for them.[27]

Regarding access to medical care for detainees including asylum seekers being held in a holding cell at police stations, they are taken to public hospitals in a manner similar to that described above. However, the way in which such requests are handled may vary from one holding cell to another.


Special needs in detention

Families are not detained, and the plan to create a wing in Menogia for the purpose of detaining families with children never moved forward and seems to have since been abandoned.[28] Unaccompanied children are not detained, nor are mothers of young children. Women are always detained separately from men but there are no special provisions for vulnerable persons in detention.

There is no effective mechanism in detention centres (or out of detention centres) to identify and assess persons with special needs. Persons categorised as vulnerable before detention or during their detention will still be detained. There are designated sanitary spaces, i.e., toilets and showers, for persons with disabilities. In Menogia, they are required to have 2 wheelchairs available, however, they do not have cells specifically for people with disabilities. In Lakatamia PHC, on the other hand, there is a cell for detainees with special needs or disabilities. There is no indication of other support provided for vulnerable persons.



[1] Ibid.

[2] Ibid.

[3] CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, Report by Nils MUIŽNIEKS, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe following his visit to Cyprus from 7 to 11 December 2015, 31 March 2016, para 1.3.2, available at:  See also KISA, Improvements regarding detention conditions – significant problems regarding detention and deportation practices, 29 January 2017, available at:

[4] CAT, Concluding Observations on the Fourth Report of Cyprus, 21 May 2014, available at:

[5] CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, Report by Nils MUIŽNIEKS, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe following his visit to Cyprus from 7 to 11 December 2015, 31 March 2016, para 1.3.2, available at:

[6] Ibid.

[7] See KISA, Abuse of power is leading detained migrants to desperate acts, 5 April 2016, available at:

[8] Information based on monitoring visits carried out by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[9] Ibid.

[10] CPT, Report to the Government of Cyprus on the visit to Cyprus carried out by the European Committee ofor the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 23 September to 1 October 2013, CPT/Inf (2014) 31, 9 December 2014, available at:

[11] Information based on monitoring visits carried out by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[12] Information based on monitoring visits carried out by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[13] Ombudsman, Έκθεση ως Εθνικός Μηχανισμός Πρόληψης των Βασανιστηρίων αναφορικά με την επίσκεψη που διενεργήθηκε στα Αστυνομικά Κρατητήρια Ορόκλινης στις 30 Νοεμβρίου 2017, ΕΜΠ 2.17, 3 April 2018.

[14] Ombudsman, Report regarding his to the Paphos Police Detention Centre on 1 September 2020, 24 September 2020, available in Greek at:

[15] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[16] ECtHR, Haghilo v. Cyprus (47920/12), 26 March 2019, available at:

[17] Based on information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[18] Ombudsman’s Office, Report dated 9 April 2024, available at:; Philnews, The Limassol detention centers are in a bad state – Unannounced visit by Lottides, 10 April 2024, available in Greek at:

[19] Ibid.

[20] KISA, improvements regarding detention conditions – significant problems regarding detention and deportation practices, 29 January 2017, available at:

[21] Ibid.

[22] Article 23 Rights of Persons who are Arrested and Detained Law.

[23] Article 30 Rights of Persons who are Arrested and Detained Law.

[24] CPT, Reports to the Government of Belgium on the visit to Belgium carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrating Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 7 to 10 November 2022, 13 July 2023, available at: See also, ECRE, Elena Weekly Legal Update (EWLU) of 8 September 2023, available at:

[25] Articles 18 and 25 Rights of Persons who are Arrested and Detained Law.

[26] Information based on monitoring visits carried out by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

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