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Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto into the government-controlled southern two-thirds of the island and the Turkish-Cypriot northern one-third. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has continued as the internationally recognized authority; in practice, its power extends only to the Greek Cypriot-controlled areas.

The 1960 Cypriot Constitution provided for a presidential system of government with independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as a complex system of checks and balances, including a weighted power-sharing ratio designed to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots. The executive, for example, was headed by a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president, elected by their respective communities for 5-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of legislation and executive decisions.

Following the 1974 hostilities, the Turkish Cypriots formally set up their own institutions with a popularly elected president and a prime minister responsible to the National Assembly exercising joint executive powers. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared an independent "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (T.R.N.C.). In 1985, they adopted a constitution and held elections--an arrangement recognized only by Turkey.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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Courts & Judgments The Cypriot Constitution and the basic law governing the Turkish Cypriot community provide for an independent judiciary, provisions which generally are respected in practice.

On both sides, most criminal and civil cases begin in district courts, from which appeals are made to Supreme Courts. No special courts exist for security or political offenses, although civilians in the Turkish Cypriot community may be tried in military courts.

Cyprus inherited many elements of its legal system from the United Kingdom, including the presumption of innocence, the right to due process, and the right of appeal. Throughout Cyprus the right to a fair public trial is provided for in law and generally accorded in practice. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials, to be represented by counsel (at public expense for those who cannot afford one), to confront witnesses, and to present evidence in their own defense.

In the Turkish Cypriot community, civilians charged with violating military zones or military regulations are subject to trial in a military court. These courts consist of one military and two civilian judges and a civilian prosecutor. Members of the Turkish Cypriot bar have complained that civilian judges tend to defer to their military colleagues in such hearings.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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Human Rights

The Government of the Republic of Cyprus generally respected the human rights of its citizens in 2001; however, there were problems in some areas. Instances of police brutality against detainees continued to be a problem. Police reportedly subjected Turkish Cypriots to surveillance. The Government placed some restrictions on persons traveling to the north. Violence against women persisted. Trafficking in women for prostitution remained a problem.

The Turkish Cypriot authorities generally respected human rights; however, there were a number of problems. Police continued to abuse suspects and detainees. Civilians continued to be tried in military courts. The authorities subjected members of the Greek Cypriot community living in the north to surveillance. The authorities also continued to restrict freedom of movement. Since 1997 the Turkish Cypriot authorities have banned most bicommunal contacts between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, including previously frequent meetings in Nicosia's buffer zone. At times they attempted to prevent Turkish Cypriots from traveling to bicommunal meetings off the island as well. Cooperation between the authorities and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees was uneven. The Turkish Cypriot authorities have taken some steps to improve the conditions of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the territory under their control, but the treatment of these groups still falls short of Turkish Cypriot obligations under the Vienna III Agreement of 1975. Violence against women and trafficking in women for prostitution were problems.

In May the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Turkey was responsible for violations of human rights in Cyprus stemming from the 1974 Turkish military intervention. The result of a complaint by the Government of Cyprus, the decision rejected the Turkish argument that the "TRNC" is an independent state and instead ruled that it is "a subordinate local administration of Turkey operating in northern Cyprus."

Source: U.S. Department of State

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