Place of detention


Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 10/07/24


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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).[1] 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 police station holding cells (PHC) around the country, supposedly for short stays but in practice often used for lengthy stays. There are 22 such police stations with facilities to detain and the total capacity is 194 persons.[2] 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.

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.[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,[4] the latest being a report in September 2020, based on a monitoring visit of a Pafos police station.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] The situation remains the same in 2023.




[1] CPT, Report on the visit to Cyprus from 23 September to 1 October 2013, CPT/Inf (2014) 31, 9 December 2014, available at:

[2] Information provided by the Cyprus Police.

[3] ECtHR, Haghilo v. Cyprus (Application No.47920/12), 26 March 2019. See summary available at EDAL website at:

[4] Reports-Recommendations of the Office of the Commissioner of Administration in its capacity as a National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture, File Numbers: 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) 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).

[5] Ombudsman, Report on Police Holding Cells in Pafos, 1 September 2020, available at:

[6] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[7] 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