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AI: Cyprus detention of asylum-seekers violates EU law

The Cyprus government's practice of detaining migrants seeking asylum in the island nation violates EU law, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [press release] Tuesday. Individuals who have regularly been detained include Syrian refugees and women who have forcibly been separated from their young children. Research gathered recently during visits to the country show that authorities have been breaching EU and international laws by failing to implement safeguards that allow detention only as a final resort. Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants' Rights at AI, stated, "Amnesty International is concerned that Cyprus is using the systematic detention of migrants to intimidate and deter potential immigrants and asylum-seekers." Some of those detained had even resided in Cyprus for years prior to their detainment. AI stated that detention within Cyprus must cease as a common practice, and that it should only be used after being proven necessary, and after less restrictive options are exhausted.

Migration practices by a number of countries have been determined to violate international law in recent years. In October UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community [JURIST report] to take action after a second migrant ship capsized near the Italian island of Lampedusa a week earlier, during an attempt to cross from Africa to Europe. Ban emphasized the need to adopt new approaches to migration, focusing on the vulnerability and human rights of migrants. In September UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on governments [JURIST report] to create human rights-based policies addressing migration. In May Crepeau visited both sides of the border in Turkey, Greece, Tunisia and Italy [official reports; PDF] to investigate the migration experience. He found that those irregular migrants related to the Arab Spring [JURIST news archive] and global south were unduly targeted for security purposes that were ineffective and indirectly exploitative. Irregular migrants are those seeking economic opportunities that do not enter through a traditional visa program, usually because a sufficient program is not offered by the EU to support the seasonal work force required by its member states' economies.

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