[JURIST] The UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) [official website] stated [press release] Tuesday that migrant detention facilities in Cyprus need better monitoring and should improve conditions. The SPT urged that individuals be promptly informed as to why they are being held if they are detained so as to prevent riots or protests. SPT Chair Malcolm Evans said:
We were very pleased to have visited Cyprus and take note of improvements. But the situation of those in immigration detention centres requires careful attention. It is so important to ensure that such detention is only resorted to when it is strictly necessary. The conditions of detention should reflect the fact that such places are not prisons and those detained are not prisoners.
Cyprus is a party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture [text], and the SPT monitors whether ratifying nations are fulfilling their treaty obligations. SPT announced its concern that Cyprus governmental arm dedicated to torture prevention lacks the finances and authority necessary to act effectively. The SPT will issue a report to Cyprus on its findings, and encourages the nation to make the report public.
The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. Last month Danish lawmakers passed a controversial bill [JURIST report] allowing authorities to seize assets from immigrants seeking asylum to cover their expenses. Also last month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] saying that Lebanese residency laws risked creating a large undocumented community of refugees living at the margins of society. In November UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly and cautioned the international community to avoid discrimination against Muslims, especially refugees and migrants entering Europe, as a result of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Also that month Amnesty International analyzed [JURIST report] the EU’s approach to the refugee crisis and recommends changes to ensure international law is followed and human rights are appropriately valued. In October HRW called on [JURIST report] the EU and Western Balkans states to focus on remedying what it characterized as deplorable conditions for asylum-seekers in Europe.