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Cyprus: Highest rate for respect of political rights
2003-08-14 09:37:09

Nicosia, Aug 14 (CNA) -- The Cyprus Republic is given the highest rate for its respect of political rights, civil liberties in the 2003 survey of the New York-based ''Freedom House'' organisation. |

Cyprus for the tenth year is given the rates 1,1 (political rights, civil liberties status) which is received by countries and territories which ''come closest to the ideals suggested by the checklist questions, beginning with free and fair elections. Those who are elected rule, there are competitive parties or other political groupings, and the opposition plays an important role and has actual power. Minority groups have reasonable self-government or can participate in the government through informal consensus''.

Describing the political situation, the survey named ''Freedom of the World'' notes that efforts at resolving Cyprus' decades-old dispute over reunification of the divided island intensified during much of 2002, ahead of an assessment of the country's European Union (EU) candidacy but eventually broke down.

Cyprus completion of negotiations and invitation by the EU for accession by May 1, 2004 is also noted in the survey.

The survey further notes that the freedom of speech in ''Cyprus (Greek)'' as it describes the Republic of Cyprus (government-controlled areas) is respected, ''and a vibrant independent press frequently criticizes authorities. Several private television and radio stations in the Greek Cypriot community compete effectively with government-controlled stations''.

''Workers have the right to strike and to form trade unions without authorisation. More than 70 percent of the work-force belongs to independent trade unions'', the survey adds.

The ''Freedom House'' survey also refers to the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, as ''Cyprus (Turkish)'', saying those areas are rated 2,2 in political rights and civil liberties because ''such factors as political corruption, violence, political discrimination against minorities, and foreign or military influence on politics may be present and weaken the quality of freedom''.

It is noted that ''T/C police (who are under the control of the Turkish military) sometimes flout due process rights and abuse or intimidate detainees''.

Concerning the freedom of press the survey finds that T/C left-wing newspaper Avrupa (Afrika) ''has faced judicial harassment unprecedented for its criticism of Denktash, his policy on the division of the island, and the Turkish military presence in the territory''.

The survey addds that in May 2000, hearings began before a ''criminal court'' on 75 lawsuits against the paper for ''instigating hatred against the 'TRNC' and the Turkish army''. In August 2002 a ''court'' in occupied Nicosia sentenced two Turkish Cypriot journalists (also from Avrupa) to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 dollars ''for undermining the authority of Denktash'', the organisation says.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

CNA KN/GP/2003


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