Relatives of missing persons to go to Strasbourg
Nicosia, Jan 5 (CNA) -- Representatives of the Committee of Relatives of Missing Persons and Undeclared Prisoners of War are planning to visit Strasbourg for contacts with Council of Europe officials in order to press on with their demand for a resolution of this humanitarian issue.
Nicos Theodosiou, Committee President, has told CNA that the visit is scheduled for the end of January, ahead of a meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 8-9 February, the competent body for the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
''We want to see an in depth and substantive investigation of cases we have submitted to the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP) and the focus of our efforts in the past several months has been closely linked to the Committee of Ministers,'' Theodosiou said.
He noted that Turkey has to yet to comply with a Court ruling that has found it guilty of human rights violations of the relatives of missing persons in Cyprus. The Court ordered Ankara in May 2001 to launch an investigation into the fate of people arrested in 1974 by the invading Turkish troops and never seen again.
The issue of missing persons was one of three agenda items discussed at the December meeting of the Committee of Ministers, as part of the ongoing debate for the execution of the Court ruling, according to CNA sources.
Several Committee members took a positive stance towards the views and positions expressed by Cyprus at the meeting while many of those who took the floor pointed out that the Committee has an obligation to ensure that Turkey implements the Court decision, the same sources said.
Nicosia believes that the CMP, with limited terms of reference, is not the appropriate body to launch an effective investigation into the fate of missing persons, a view not shared by Turkey.
The Cypriot government points out that Turkey does not participate in the CMP, which is a bicommunal body whose work has been recently reactivated lately and is welcomed.
At its December meeting, the Committee of Ministers dealt with three issues, missing persons, military courts in northern Turkish occupied Cyprus and vetting by the Turkish Cypriot occupation regime of school text books sent to the elementary and the secondary Greek language schools in occupied Cyprus.
On the role of the military courts, the Committee has heard that a second bill prepared by Ankara on the matter is not considered satisfactory as far as compliance with European norms and regulations is concerned, when it comes to the jurisdiction of military courts.
On the vetting of school text books, the Committee has heard that the occupation regime removes pages from the books which refer to the Republic of Cyprus, apart from tearing out pages with references to historic events or other issues that are not approved by the regime.
Responding to questions, Theodosiou said the Committee he chairs is not in touch with INFORCE foundation, from Britain, which has come to an agreement in principle with the CMP to undertake exhumation work on both sides in Cyprus with regard to Turkish and Greek Cypriot missing persons.
An expert from INFORCE, accompanied by additional experts and equipment, is expected on the island in January.
The CMP is due to hold its 86th working session on Friday, 7 January.
The Cypriot government has submitted to the CMP for investigation 1493 cases of Cypriot and Greek nationals listed as missing, a number that includes women, children, elderly persons and members of the National Guard.
Of the 1493 cases, the remains of 14 missing persons have been identified through the DNA process when the government of the Republic embarked unilaterally on a process of exhumation and identification of remains. Therefore the CMP now has before it 1479 cases to investigate.
There are also another 107 cases of Greek Cypriot and Greek missing persons whose files have not been submitted to the CMP and whose families have been informed as to the reasons why the specific files were not presented to the CMP. The Cypriot authorities continue to investigate these cases.
In addition to that, there are 50 cases of Greek Cypriots missing since the 1963-64 period, when intercommunal fighting occured.
The CMP has the files of 500 Turkish Cypriot missing persons from 1963-64 and 1974.
The Greek Cypriot side has handed to the CMP information on more than 350 cases of Turkish Cypriots listed as missing, which gives full account as to the fate of these persons.