Conditions in detention facilities


Country Report: Conditions in detention facilities Last updated: 11/04/23


Cyprus Refugee Council Visit Website

The following section summarises findings of regular monitoring visits by the Cyprus Refugee Council in Menogia throughout 2020, 2021, and 2022 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 2022 the staff of Menogia Detention Centre was comprised of 80 full time police officers, with 19 officers working per 8-hour shift as well as a 13-person cleaning crew. Furthermore, a refugee status determination examiner from the Asylum Service, a full-time doctor (working there on weekdays between 08:30am-15:30pm) and 24-hour provision of nurses are appointed to Menogia and work on site. There used to be a resident psychologist at the Centre, whose contract expired in the beginning of 2022 and has not been replaced. Currently the Centre provides psychosocial support to detainees volunteer psychology students on a weekly basis as part of a Red Cross initiative. Detainees who seek psychiatric assistance must make an appointment with the doctor, who then refers them to the psychiatrist at the General Hospital of Larnaca district if they deem necessary.[1]

In the past there were also service providers such as a dance teacher, an art teacher, an English language teacher and a gym instructor that visited the centre once every two weeks. During 2020, 2021, and early 2022, activities were suspended due COVID-19 measures. From August 2022 and onwards these activities resumed.[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 experiencing re-detention.[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]

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. Nevertheless, detainees occasionally complain about the cleanliness in toilets, as they are shared among them and not kept clean. Furthermore, prior to 2018, washing machines for clothes operated twice 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. From 12:00 at noon detainees are allowed to spend one hour and half in the courtyard; each wing given a different time slot. The size of the outdoor space is approximately the size of a basketball court.[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 open-air spaces, cleanliness and hygiene, access to information and access to full set of rights.[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 have been implemented. In a visit carried out by CyRC to the Police Station in Lakatamia (suburb of Nicosia), all detainees mentioned that they each have a private cell with a shower and toilet. They also reported that the living space is clean and the building is cleaned by personnel hired specifically for this reason. Furthermore, according to recent information gathered from former detainees, the cells of detainees – not including those who are detained for criminal reasons, they are separated from administrative detainees – are open all day until 10pm except during the time the cleaning service comes. However, the issue regarding the washing machines remains as problematic as in the previous report; in that, there are no washing machines and detainees are forced to wash their clothes in the sink of their cells with the soap they use to wash their bodies.

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. Furthermore, they do not have any recreational facilities.[15]

In late 2022 improvements to the conditions in Holding Cells were planned in view of the upcoming CPT monitoring visit to Cyprus, however it is not yet clear if these have taken place. Based on feedback from detainees in early 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.[16]


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.[17] 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.

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.  They were in the process of installing water fountains with filters to encourage use of tap water, however, they have not installed anything as of the beginning of 2023. 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. During a visit carried out by the CyRC to the Police Station in Lakatamia last year, 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 have been made this year, 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.[18] Since 2016, detainees have access to internet via free Wi-Fi through their mobile phones.[19] Access to WiFi is only available in communal spaces and not in the detainees’ cells. During access to open-air 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 biweekly basis, however detainees reported either not knowing of these or showed a lack of motivation or interest to attend. In any case, such activities were suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. In early 2022, activities had yet to resume due to COVID-19 measures. In August 2022 English classes resumed but, according to recent updates, due to low interest showed by detainees in joining such activities, English classes have again stopped. Currently, there are no other recreational activities taking place in Menogia.

In holding cells there are no entertainment facilitates, no reading materials, computers, or televisions and in most cases no internet access. Detainees are only allowed to use their phones when they are taken out of their cells which in certain Police Stations may be 2 times per day, one hour each. However, there are instances where detainees have reported being 23 hours in their holding 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.[20] 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.[21] 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 are given medical examinations for specific contagious diseases e.g., tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis tests, but not a full assessment of physical and mental health issues.

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, and a nurse is present at the Centre 24 hours per day on a daily basis, in shifts. Up until last year a clinical psychologist was appointed by the Department of Mental Health Services, however this practice has stopped. As of the beginning of 2022, 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, and more often than not, they are referred to psychiatrists and not psychologists. 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.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24]

Regarding access to medical care for detainees including asylum seekers being held in a holding cell at police stations, they are taken to state 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.[25] 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. There is no indication of other support provided for vulnerable persons.




[1] Ibid.

[2] Ibid.

[3] CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, Cyprus report, 31 March 2016, para 1.3.2. 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, Cyprus report, 31 March 2016, para 1.3.2.

[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 on the visit to Cyprus 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, Έκθεση Επιτρόπου Διοικήσεως και Προστασίας Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων ως Εθνικός Μηχανισμός Πρόληψης των Βασανιστηρίων, αναφορικά με την επίσκεψη που διενεργήθηκε στα Αστυνομικά Κρατητήρια Πάφου την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2020, ΕΜΠ 2.15, 24 Σεπτεμβρίου 2020, available in Greek at:

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

[16] Based on information.

[17] Ibid.

[18] KISA, ‘Improvements regarding detention conditions – significant problems regarding detention and deportation practices’, 29 January 2017, available at:

[19] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

[24] Ibid.

[25] 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