Freedom of movement

Cyprus

Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 28/04/21

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The Refugee Law grants asylum seekers the right to free movement and choice of residence in the areas controlled by the RoC.[1] Therefore asylum seekers cannot cross the “green line” to the northern areas not under the control of the RoC, although other third-country nationals who are legally in Cyprus either as visitors or under some form of residence, employment, or student permit do have the right to cross.

The Minister of Interior may restrict freedom of movement within some the controlled areas and decide on the area of residence of an asylum seeker for reasons of public interest or order.[2]

Asylum seekers currently reside where they choose, with the exception of Chloraka,in the Pahos district where, according to a Ministerial Decree issued in December 2020, new asylum seekers are no longer allowed to reside.[3] All asylum seekers are obliged to report any changes of living address to the authorities either within five working days or as soon as possible after changing their address.[4] If they fail to do so, they may be considered to have withdrawn their asylum application, although in practice in recent years there have been no indications of this being implemented. There is no legislative differentiation regarding the provision of material conditions based on the area of residence.

Since 2019, newly arrived asylum seekers that present themselves to the Immigration Offices in Nicosia are transferred to Pournara First Reception Centre to undergo identification, registration and make their application as well as undergo a medical screening and vulnerability assessment. Officially the stay in the Centre is 72 hours during which movement outside the Centre is completely restricted. In practice the stay in the Centre is determined by the time needed for the medical tests (Mantoux test, HIV, and Hepatitis) to be concluded and usually reached 7-10 days. Due to the high numbers of applicants in 2019, and delays in the tuberculosis screening (including need to re-test due to positive results), there were instances where asylum seekers stayed in the Centre for one month. In early 2020, without prior notice, asylum seekers were obliged to remain at the Pournara Camp for undefined periods reaching many months and leading to de facto detention. Only a small number of asylum seekers were allowed to move out of the Centre, usually due to their vulnerability or ability to secure a valid address in the community.

As far as the situation in the community is concerned, and as of late 2020, the Minister of Interior issued for the first time a Ministerial Decree which prohibits asylum seekers from residing within the administrative boundaries of Chloraka, in Pafos district.[5] The rationale of the decision includes reasons such as the “massive settlement of International Protection holders” in the area, resulting in “social problems” and “demographic change”. Persons originating mainly from Syria have been residing in the particular area for over 10 years, some even prior to the Syrian conflict. The number of Syrian residents has increased during the last 4 years, as a result of the Syrian crisis. The Decree was issued after demonstrations were held by a number of local actors, which raised concerns over racial alteration of the community due to approximately 20% of the community being Syrians. Following a crime involving a Syrian resident, a public discourse emerged resulting in the stigmatisation of the whole Syrian community in the area. The Decree that was issued fails to provide informed and relevant reasons for imposing the particular restrictions while it introduces a racially discriminatory rationale, contradicting the provisions of Directive 2013/33, as well as various anti-discriminatory provisions outlined by international and local legal texts.

 

[1]           Article 9KB(2) and (4) Refugee Law.

[2]           Article 9E(1) Refugee Law.

[3]           Ministerial Decree Κ.Δ.Π. 583/2020 pursuant to Article 9E(1)(a)(ii) of the Refugee Law, available at http://bit.ly/3tGMgMS.

[4]           Article 8(2)(a) Refugee Law.

[5]           Ministerial Decree Κ.Δ.Π. 583/2020 pursuant to Article 9E(1)(a)(ii) of the Refugee Law, available at http://bit.ly/3tGMgMS.

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