Most asylum seekers are detained in Menogia. The Detention Centre of Menogia, located in the district of Larnaca, started operating in January 2013 with the purpose of detaining persons under return procedures. However, it is also used for the detention of asylum seekers. The official capacity of Menogia was initially 256 but has been lowered to 128, following recommendations made by monitoring institutions such as the Ombudsman’s Office and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT). Since its operation, there have been no issues of overcrowding. In the detention centre, asylum seekers are always detained with other third-country nationals as well as EU nationals pending removal.
In addition to Menogia, third-country nationals can also be held temporarily in police stations around the country, which in the past were used for lengthy stays. In recent years and due to recommendations from monitoring institutions, the majority of detained asylum seekers are usually transferred within two-three days to Menogia, however as reported by the Ombudsman’s Office in April 2018 there are cases where the stay reaches eight days. In police stations, they may also be held with persons detained for committing an offence and awaiting their trial. However, such persons are usually transferred to a unit in the Central Prison for persons pending trial, and cases of serious offences will usually be transferred to this unit once the Court has ordered their detention.
On 26 March 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its judgment in the case Haghilo v. Cyprus (47920/12) regarding the detention pending deportation of an Iranian national, who had been detained for over 18 months in three police stations. The Court ruled that the applicant’s detention had been unlawfully extended after the expiry of the six-month period. It found that the detention measure was not in accordance with domestic law and, therefore, violated Article 5 (1) ECHR. In the light of this conclusion, the Court did not find it necessary to examine the preceding period of the applicant’s detention or the remainder of the applicant’s complaints under this provision. On the complaint under Article 3, the Court observed that the applicant had been held for a significant amount of time in detention, in police stations that were designed to accommodate people for a short time only. The buildings lacked the facilities necessary for the purposes of long detention, such as the possibility of outdoor activity. It noted the specific material conditions of the detention under review, such as the lack of day light, fresh air and the small size of the cells in each station, which were detailed in reports provided by experts and the Ombudsperson. Referring to its case law, the ECtHR held that the applicant was subjected to hardship beyond the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention and that it amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment prohibited by Article 3.
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.