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PACE report indicates violations of enclaved people's human rights
2003-01-31 14:13:11

Nicosia, Jan 31 (CNA) -- The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), in a draft report, expresses serious concern that the island of Cyprus continues to be rigorously and arbitrarily divided and that the Greek Cypriot and Maronite enclaved communities suffer serious human rights violations.

The report, entitled "Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the northern part of Cyprus", notes that a general settlement of the Cyprus conflict "should never be at the expense of the communities that have opted to continue to live there where they have always resided".

The PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights approved the draft report, prepared by Rapporteur Dick Marty. |

It expresses "serious concern" over the island's division and agrees with the opinion expressed by the European Court of Human Rights in its judgment of 10 may 2001 in the case of Cyprus vs. Turkey, that Turkey's responsibility under the Convention also extends to actions of the Turkish Cypriot administration.

In that decision, Turkey was held guilty for 14 violations of the European Convention of Human Rights and was considered responsible for the actions of the illegal regime in the occupied areas.

The draft resolution, which will be approved by the plenary of the PACE in April in Strasbourg, notes that the Assembly "is particularly shocked by the imposed division of families, the prohibition on young people returning to their homes, the arbitrary confiscations and expropriations and the general climate of apprehension and uncertainty, even fear, to which members of these communities are deliberately subjected".

It insists that the Turkish Cypriot administration controlling the northern part of Cyprus, as well as Turkey, which assumes de facto legal co-responsibility in this part of the island, "cease all humiliation of the Greek and Maronite communities and put an end to the climate of intimidation".

They should also "end the dispossessions affecting members of these communities by returning to the members of these communities the property and possessions of which they have been arbitrarily dispossessed?ensure freedom of education and worship for Orthodox Christians and Maronites, end the restriction on movement across the demarcation line, grant all inhabitants the right to an effective remedy and ensure access to equal medical care".

In his explanatory memorandum, Marty said the testimony gathered on the spot during his visit lead him to conclude that members of the Maronite and Greek Cypriot communities enclaved in the northern part of Cyprus "do indeed suffer human rights violations which are serious".

It further says that the discrimination suffered by these people is "unacceptable and incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights", adding the PACE should respond to this and approve the report the soonest possible.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.

Some 20,000 Greek Cypriots remained in their homes after the invasion. However, the number has dwindled to about 500, most of them elderly.


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