Asylum seekers may be detained in the Detention Centre of Menogia or in Police Holding Cells (PHC). The Detention Centre of Menogia, located in the district of Larnaca, started operating in January 2013 to detain 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, however this is due to detainees being held in PHC where conditions are often sub-standard. 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, including asylum seekers can also be held in Cells (PHC) around the country, supposedly for short says but in practice often used for lengthy stays. There are 20 such police stations with facilities to detain and the total capacity is 180 persons. In police stations, asylum seekers may also be held with persons detained for committing an offence and awaiting their trial, although they will be accommodated in separate cells. Furthermore, persons detained for serious criminal offences will usually be transferred to the pre-trial unit at the Central Prison once the Court has ordered their detention. For certain periods in 2020 and early 2021 during the lockdown measures for COVID-19, detainees who had to attend court hearings or visit a doctor had to submit a request for an exit permit to the Minister of Interior. Although the authorisations to exit were granted, this usually happened following interventions from NGOs and, in some cases, after the court hearing or appointment date.
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 were cases where the stay reached eight days. At the end of 2022, 70 asylum seekers were arrested in Pournara, as they were considered to have been involved in fights that broke out in Pournara two months prior to their arrest. None of the persons arrested were investigated or prosecuted under criminal procedures. In most cases their asylum applications were examined at first instance and rejected in Pournara before being detained. They were initially detained in PHC and the duration of detention varied as some cases opted to return to their home country. Some cases opted to challenge the rejection of their asylum application as well as the detention order and were transferred to Menogia detention centre after 7-10 days from the day of their arrest. However, there are cases which until present are still held at police holding cells after two months and have reported not being given access to appeal procedures and are continuously being presented with the option to return to their countries by the AIU but have refused.
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. 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 designed to accommodate people for a short time only. The buildings lacked the facilities necessary for 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, 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.
Since 2020, there has been a substantial rise in the use of holding cells. There has been no official justification for the increase of use of police holding cells, however it seems to be due to the lack of space in Menogia. The national Ombudsman acting as National Preventive Mechanism of Torture raised the issue in various reports, the latest being a report in September 2020, based on a monitoring visit of a Pafos police station. The report states, among other things, that holding cells should not be used for purposes of immigration detention and that persons must be transferred to Menogia within 48 hours. No improvement was noted after the issuance of the report. In addition, due to lack of clear procedures with regards to access to asylum or court procedures, there seems to be a delay in responding to requests made by persons expressing their intention to apply for asylum while being detained in a holding cell, or asylum seekers wishing to access the court with the aim of challenging their detention.
 CPT, Report on the visit to Cyprus from 23 September to 1 October 2013, CPT/Inf (2014) 31, 9 December 2014, available at: http://bit.ly/2jlWcXx.
 Information provided by the Cyprus Police.
 FRA, Migration: Key Fundamental Rights Concerns – Quarterly Bulletin, February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3DmhOxz, 22.
 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.
 Information based on monitoring of the cases by Cyprus Refugee Council.
 ECtHR, Haghilo v. Cyprus (47920/12), 26 March 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2Uru0Zh.
 Εκθέσεις-Εισηγήσεις του Γραφείου Επιτρόπου Διοικήσεων υπό την ιδιότητα ως Εθνικώς Μηχανισμός Πρόληψης των Βασανιστηρίων, Αριθμός Φακέλων: Ε.Π.Μ. 1. 02. (4/10/2019), Ε.Π.Μ. 2. 11. (10/10/2019), Ε.Π.Μ. 2.14 (24/07/2019), ΑΥΤ. 2/2020 (04/09/2020) και ΕΜΠ 2.15. (24/09/2020)
 Ombudsman, Report on Police Holding Cells in Pafos, 1 September 2020; ΈκθεσηΕπιτρόπουΔιοικήσεωςκαιΠροστασίαςΑνθρωπίνωνΔικαιωμάτωνωςΕθνικόςΜηχανισμόςΠρόληψηςτωνΒασανιστηρίων, αναφορικάμετηνεπίσκεψηπουδιενεργήθηκεσταΑστυνομικάΚρατητήριαΠάφουτην 1ηΣεπτεμβρίου2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3cD8ycF.
 Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.