Cyprus

   

Quality of Democracy

#32
Key Findings
With corruption control becoming an increasing concern, Cyprus receives a comparatively low overall score (rank 32) for democracy quality. Its score in this area has declined by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

Voting is no longer mandatory, and electoral-participation rates have declined, particularly in local and European elections. A number of recently passed laws regulate political-party financing, but donation and spending caps are high, and party-subsidy criteria remain opaque.

Policies combatting human trafficking have improved. Treatment of asylum-seekers and economic and irregular migrants has drawn criticism. Government efforts to influence the media have intensified, and the media is increasingly dependent on financial interests, undermining critical reporting. Implementation of a new law regulating access to government information has been delayed.

Legal certainty is undermined by governmental and administrative delays, and by the frequency with which laws are judged unconstitutional. Court workloads make for very long case durations. Many of the officials recently convicted for corruption have been granted early release, diminishing the credibility of anticorruption efforts.

Electoral Processes

#38

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

10
 9

Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
 8
 7
 6


A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
 5
 4
 3


Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
 2
 1

Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
Candidacy Procedures
9
Registration requirements for candidates are minimal and relate to citizenship, age, mental soundness and criminal record. Candidates for the presidency of the republic must belong to the Greek community. Citizens of other EU states have voting rights and are eligible to run for office in local elections. Since 2014, the eligibility to vote and run for office in European parliamentary elections has been extended to Turkish Cypriots residing in areas not under the government’s control. Citizens of non-EU countries have no voting rights. Simultaneously holding a public office and/or a post in the public service and/or a ministerial portfolio and/or an elected office is constitutionally prohibited.

The eligibility age to run for president is 35 and 25 for a member of parliament. The eligibility age for municipal and community councils, and the European Parliament was reduced from 25 to 21 years-old (2013). Candidate registration procedures are clearly defined, reasonable and open to media and public review. Candidacies must be proposed and supported by registered voters: the required number is two for local elections, four for parliamentary elections, and, since 2016, one voter proposing and 100 supporting a candidacy for presidential elections.

A financial deposit is also required from candidates running for office, ranging from €85 (community elections) to €2,000 for presidential elections. This sum is returned to candidates who meet vote thresholds specific to each election type.

Citations:
1. The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, http://www.presidency.gov.cy/presidency/presidency.nsf/all/1003AEDD83EED9C7C225756F0023C6AD/$file/CY_Constitution.pdf
2. The Law on the Election of the members of the House of Representatives, L.72/1979, in Greek, http://www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/1979_1_72/full.html
3. The Municipalities Law, 11/1985, unofficial English translation available at, http://www.ucm.org.cy/DocumentStrea m.aspx?ObjectID=966
4. The Communities Law, 86(I)/1999, available in Greek at, http://www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/1999_1_86/full.html
5. The Law on the Election of Members of the European Parliament 10(I)/2004, available in Greek at http://www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/2004_1_10/full.html

To what extent do candidates and parties have fair access to the media and other means of communication?

10
 9

All candidates and parties have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. All major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of the range of different political positions.
 8
 7
 6


Candidates and parties have largely equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. The major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of different political positions.
 5
 4
 3


Candidates and parties often do not have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. While the major media outlets represent a partisan political bias, the media system as a whole provides fair coverage of different political positions.
 2
 1

Candidates and parties lack equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communications. The major media outlets are biased in favor of certain political groups or views and discriminate against others.
Media Access
7
Parties’ and candidates’ media access is only regulated for radio and television. There is no law for digital media and no coverage obligation for the press. However, almost all newspapers and their online editions offer coverage to all parties and candidates.

The Law on Radio and Television 7(I)/1998 and specific regulations require equitable and non-discriminatory treatment by commercial radio and television. The law on the public broadcaster (Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, RIK) and regulations provide for fair and equitable treatment of political actors. Equity must be respected, particularly during the pre-election period. However, the definition of “pre-election period” varies in duration. Airtime must be allotted in accordance with a political party’s share of parliamentary seats and the extent of its territorial organization.

Broadcasters are required to adopt an in-house code of coverage. The Cyprus Radio Television Authority (CRTA) monitors the compliance of commercial broadcasters, but does not publish findings. It does, however, produce an annual report on the public broadcaster. Rare special reports offer little insight for scrutiny. Paid political advertising on broadcast media is allowed during the 40 days preceding elections, on equal terms for all, without discrimination. It appears that there is compliance with the rules on media access. However, the absence of publicly available codes of conduct and relevant reports negatively impacts our evaluation.

Finally, during the EP elections in 2019, the percentage of female candidates and media access accorded to women was very low. The lack of a gender balance in politics and social life continues to be a matter of great concern.

Citations:
1. The Law on Radio and Television Stations, L. 7(I)/1998, in English, available at http://crta.org.cy/images/users/1/FINAL%20CONSOLIDATED%20LAW%2016.3.17.pdf
2. Report on RIK, public broadcaster for 2018 (in Greek), CRTA, http://crta.org.cy/images/users/1/EKTHESI_RIK_2018.pdf
3. Regulations on fair treatment of parties and candidates, Normative Administrative Acts (NAA) 193/2006 available at http://www.cylaw.org/nomothesia/par _3/meros_1/2006/1641.pdf (in Greek), and NAA 207/2009 (on European Parliament Elections), available at http://www.cylaw.org/nomothesia/par _3/meros_1/2009/1087.pdf (in Greek).

To what extent do all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right of participation in national elections?

10
 9

All adult citizens can participate in national elections. All eligible voters are registered if they wish to be. There are no discriminations observable in the exercise of the right to vote. There are no disincentives to voting.
 8
 7
 6


The procedures for the registration of voters and voting are for the most part effective, impartial and nondiscriminatory. Citizens can appeal to courts if they feel being discriminated. Disincentives to voting generally do not constitute genuine obstacles.
 5
 4
 3


While the procedures for the registration of voters and voting are de jure non-discriminatory, isolated cases of discrimination occur in practice. For some citizens, disincentives to voting constitute significant obstacles.
 2
 1

The procedures for the registration of voters or voting have systemic discriminatory effects. De facto, a substantial number of adult citizens are excluded from national elections.
Voting and Registration Rights
8
Voting ceased to be mandatory in 2017. Exercising voting rights requires registration on the electoral roll. Despite amendments aiming to facilitate participation, registration rolls may “close” up to three months before an election. No means of e-voting or proxy voting exist. The voting age is 18, down from 21 since 1996. Special arrangements enable prisoners and other groups to exercise their voting rights. In some cases, displaced voters are assigned to vote in distant polling stations, which seems to favor abstention. Overseas voting has been possible since 2011 in a limited number of cities in Europe and elsewhere. Only 7% of Turkish Cypriots living in the areas not under the Cypriot government’s control exercised their voting rights in the 2019 EP elections. There were nine Turkish Cypriot candidates, and one of them, a professor at the University of Cyprus, was among the six elected to the European Parliament.

Voter registration by young citizens remains very low (20-25% of those eligible) since the early 2000s. Additionally, abstention rates have risen sharply, ranging from 28% in presidential elections to more than 50% in local and EP elections.

An OSCE report praised the way and the “competitive and pluralistic environment” in which the 2018 presidential elections were conducted. It also includes recommendations for addressing issues related to party and candidate financing.

Citations:
1. Turkish Cypriot politicians on Kizilyurek’s election, in-Cyprus, 28 May 2019, https://in-cyprus.com/turkish-cypriot-politicians-on-kizilyureks-election/
2. OSCE/ODIHR Cyprus, Presidential Election, 28 January and 4 February 2018, Final Report 2 May 2018, https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/cyprus/379225?download=true

To what extent is private and public party financing and electoral campaign financing transparent, effectively monitored and in case of infringement of rules subject to proportionate and dissuasive sanction?

10
 9

The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring to that respect. Effective measures to prevent evasion are effectively in place and infringements subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
 8
 7
 6


The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring. Although infringements are subject to proportionate sanctions, some, although few, loopholes and options for circumvention still exist.
 5
 4
 3


The state provides that donations to political parties shall be published. Party financing is subject to some degree of independent monitoring but monitoring either proves regularly ineffective or proportionate sanctions in case of infringement do not follow.
 2
 1

The rules for party and campaign financing do not effectively enforce the obligation to make the donations public. Party and campaign financing is neither monitored independently nor, in case of infringements, subject to proportionate sanctions.
Party Financing
3
Political parties and affiliated organizations receive annual and extraordinary state funding since 1989. The most recent amendment of the law in November 2015, in response to GRECO and other organizations’ recommendations, sought to regulate private funding and fight corruption. Financial or other donations up to €50,000 are allowed; the list of donors must be published, except for sums below €500. Parties and candidates must submit their accounts, including election-related (i.e., income, expenditures, assets and debts), to the director general of the Ministry of Interior (registrar of political parties). The auditor general annually audits the accounts and publishes reports. Parliamentary candidates have an electoral expenditure cap of €30,000; for candidates for the presidency the ceiling is €1 million. The law lists activities that would constitute corruption and must be avoided by candidates. Non-compliance and corruption are subject to fines and/or imprisonment, depending on the offense.

In its Addendum Compliance report published in April 2018, GRECO concluded that its recommendation on transparency in party funding had been implemented satisfactorily. On the basis of the 2015 law, the auditor general audited party and candidate accounts for the 2016 parliamentary and municipal elections. His report found problems that limit the scope and efficiency of control; among others, the lack of a legal obligation for submitting payment documents and no clear definition of the term “personal expenses.” Published accounts of presidential candidates in the 2018 election were met with skepticism.

The caps set for donations and per-candidate expenses seem excessively high given the small size of the electorate (550,000 voters) and the market. Also, both criteria and procedures for setting the level of annual or extraordinary state subsidies to political parties remain opaque. Despite these weaknesses, adopted regulatory measures constitute a positive step, though they do need improvement.

Citations:
1. Our View: Published campaign spending figures far removed from a full disclosure, Cyprus Mail, 4 June 2018 https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/04/06/view-published-campaign-spending-figures-far-removed-full-disclosure/
2. Council of Europe – GRECO, Addendum to the Second Compliance Report on Cyprus, April 2018 https://rm.coe.int/third-evaluation-round-addendum-to-the-second-compliance-report-on-cyp/16807baf93

Do citizens have the opportunity to take binding political decisions when they want to do so?

10
 9

Citizens have the effective opportunity to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums. The set of eligible issues is extensive, and includes national, regional, and local issues.
 8
 7
 6


Citizens have the effective opportunity to take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through either popular initiatives or referendums. The set of eligible issues covers at least two levels of government.
 5
 4
 3


Citizens have the effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure. The set of eligible issues is limited to one level of government.
 2
 1

Citizens have no effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure.
Popular Decision-Making
2
The constitution makes no provision for referenda and does not grant citizens the right to make binding decisions. Law 206/1989 provides that the Council of Ministers can initiate such a procedure and ask the House of Representatives to decide on whether a referendum should be held. Citizens cannot petition to initiate such a process. The Interior Ministry must call and organize the vote. The only general referendum held to date took place in April 2004.The vote was on a United Nations plan for settling the Cyprus problem. A special law (L.74(I)/2004), enabled members of the Greek Cypriot community to vote. In that case, the outcome was binding. Local referenda are also held when communities wish to become municipalities or change their status.

No update has been released on a draft law on e-petitions that was discussed by a parliamentary committee in October 2018.

Citations:
1. Law on organizing referendums, L. 206/1989, available in Greek at, http://www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non -ind/1989_1_206/full.html.

Access to Information

#32

To what extent are the media independent from government?

10
 9

Public and private media are independent from government influence; their independence is institutionally protected and fully respected by the incumbent government.
 8
 7
 6


The incumbent government largely respects the independence of media. However, there are occasional attempts to exert influence.
 5
 4
 3


The incumbent government seeks to ensure its political objectives indirectly by influencing the personnel policies, organizational framework or financial resources of public media, and/or the licensing regime/market access for private media.
 2
 1

Major media outlets are frequently influenced by the incumbent government promoting its partisan political objectives. To ensure pro-government media reporting, governmental actors exert direct political pressure and violate existing rules of media regulation or change them to benefit their interests.
Media Freedom
6
Efforts by the government to influence the media appear to have intensified since 2017. This is visible in the treatment of third party reports or statements critical of the president and government. Formal and informal relations between the government, journalists and media owners have intensified through appointments to political positions or in the governing boards of semi-state organizations. NGOs have noted a tendency of some media to be indulgent to the government, a phenomenon they consider as a threat to democracy.

Legal requirements for launching a publication are minimal. Provisions in the Press Law 145/1989 for the establishment of a Press Council and Press Authority have been inoperative since 1990. Media owners, publishers, and the Union of Journalists collectively signed a code of journalistic ethics in 1997 and established a complaints commission composed mostly of media professionals.

RIK, the public broadcaster, is a public entity governed by a board appointed by the Council of Ministers. Appointments to this body are often politically motivated and very often include party officials. Disagreement from political parties with a government decision to ban advertising on RIK increased budgetary pressures for RIK in 2019. Interference and public statements by parties arguing for “more equitable” access continue to hold the public broadcaster hostage to politicians. Despite this competition for influence, pluralism generally prevails.

A law incorporating the provisions of EU media directives governs private audiovisual media services. Oversight is carried out by the Cyprus Radio Television Authority (CRTA), which also oversees RIK’s compliance with its public-service mandate. The CRTA has extensive powers and a broadly independent status. Though no high-level party official can be a member or chairperson of the CRTA, appointments by the Council of Ministers are often politically motivated rather than based on expertise or competence. The regulatory role of the CRTA has been very limited over the years.

At a different level, the Attorney General’s constitutional powers to seize newspapers or printed matter constitutes a threat to freedom of expression.

Citations:
1. OPEK: A blow to democracy the control of media by the executive (in Greek), Politis, 12 July 2019, https://politis.com.cy/politis-news/kypros/opek-pligma-gia-ti-dimokratia-o-elegchos-ton-mme-apo-tin-ektelestiki-exoysia/
2. Reporters without borders, Cyprus https://rsf.org/en/cyprus
3. Auditor-general has abused his position yet again in attack on Cyprus Mail, Cyprus Mail, 2 July 2019, https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/07/02/our-view-auditor-general-has-abused-his-position-yet-again-in-attack-on-cyprus-mail/

To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

10
 9

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
 8
 7
 6


Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
 5
 4
 3


Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
 2
 1

Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Media Pluralism
7
In recent years, media companies have grown in size, extending their hold on the press and broadcasting (mainly radio) sector, and operating internet news portals. Dependency on financial interests has increased, evident in media content. This has inevitably led to less critical or no reporting on specific businesses and interests. Strict radio and television ownership rules, with a threshold of 25% capital share, disallow cross-media conglomerates. However, no ownership rules exist for the press and little data is publicly available, which limits scrutiny. Financial grants to assist print media companies are in place since 2017. A similar Council of Ministers decision (2017) for grants to television organizations has been kept classified.

The Cyprus problem remained the dominant subject in 2019; it also underpins polarized media positions and biases on other issues. Other themes, including the state of the economy, instances of corruption, the selling of citizenship, and a crisis with Turkey connected to explorations for hydrocarbons also made the headlines. Issues of social concern such as immigration and refugees, multiculturalism and the environment also occupied some media space in 2019. The absence of analytical reporting, combined with advocacy journalism and lenient positions toward the government and elites persisted as major challenges, constraining pluralism in society.

The government and mainstream actors continued to largely monopolize media access, limiting the spectrum of themes covered and the viewpoints expressed. A focus on partisan confrontations, polarization and blame games resulted in critical problems rarely being discussed in a meaningful manner.

Citations:
1. Media Pluralism Monitor Cyprus, 2017 https://cadmus.eui.eu/bitstream/handle/1814/61134/2018_Cyprus_EN.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
2. Our View: Journalists making absurd claims over glossary, Cyprus Mail, 7 August 2018, https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/08/07/our-view-journalists-making-absurd-claims-over-glossary/

To what extent can citizens obtain official information?

10
 9

Legal regulations guarantee free and easy access to official information, contain few, reasonable restrictions, and there are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information.
 8
 7
 6


Access to official information is regulated by law. Most restrictions are justified, but access is sometimes complicated by bureaucratic procedures. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms permit citizens to enforce their right of access.
 5
 4
 3


Access to official information is partially regulated by law, but complicated by bureaucratic procedures and some poorly justified restrictions. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms are often ineffective.
 2
 1

Access to official information is not regulated by law; there are many restrictions of access, bureaucratic procedures and no or ineffective mechanisms of enforcement.
Access to Government Information
3
In December 2017, the parliament approved a law “to regulate the right of access to information in the public domain.” The law aimed at creating a comprehensive framework that would, among others, solve challenges with existing rules. References to the right to information are found in the constitutional clause on free expression (Article 19) and in laws on personal-data processing, access to environmental data, the reuse of public sector information, the public service, the press. Article 67 of the Law on Public Service (L. 1/1990) prohibits the disclosure without authorization of any information that comes to the knowledge of employees during the exercise of their duties. The absence of coherent legislation results in contradictory policies from government officials, which ultimately is limiting transparency and constraining citizens’ rights.

Some of the aforementioned laws provide for mechanisms for administrative appeal in connection with the reuse of public sector information, environmental information and data protection. Recourse to an independent authority, the Commissioner for Data Protection, is also possible for relevant issues. Another option is recourse to the courts.

Implementation of the 2017 law was expected in December 2018, but the parliament suspended this for an additional period of two years. Contradictory policies by the authorities will continue.

Citations:
The Law to regulate access to information in the public domain, L. 184(I)/2017, in Greek, http://cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/2017_1_184/full.html

Civil Rights and Political Liberties

#25

To what extent does the state respect and protect civil rights and how effectively are citizens protected by courts against infringements of their rights?

10
 9

All state institutions respect and effectively protect civil rights. Citizens are effectively protected by courts against infringements of their rights. Infringements present an extreme exception.
 8
 7
 6


The state respects and protects rights, with few infringements. Courts provide protection.
 5
 4
 3


Despite formal protection, frequent infringements of civil rights occur and court protection often proves ineffective.
 2
 1

State institutions respect civil rights only formally, and civil rights are frequently violated. Court protection is not effective.
Civil Rights
7
Cyprus’s constitution and laws guarantee and protect the civil rights of all residents, not only citizens of the Republic. However, problems do persist, including the treatment of asylum-seekers, economic and irregular migrants as well as forced labor. Compliance with EU and international rules and standards remains deficient.

The U.S. Department of State has placed Cyprus on Tier One, considering that it “fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” A delegation of the anti-traffic group of experts (GRETA) of the Council of Europe visited Cyprus in mid-2019. Their compliance report is expected in 2020.

Despite a new policy framework and an EU harmonization law (2014), problems persist. Though a Council of Europe’s SPACE report on prisons indicated overcrowding in prisons as no longer a problem, a 2018 Ombudsman’s report concluded that detention conditions, services and support provided to detainees were problematic. In other 2019 reports the Ombudsman’s Office observes shortcomings and problems in the treatment of asylum-seekers, including the provision of assistance, living conditions, employment opportunities and exploitation. Migrant workers face similar challenges. Despite improvements in official policies that aim to eliminate labor exploitation, the results remain unsatisfactory. Actions by NGOs appear to slightly mitigate problems, while also highlighting existing deficiencies. Though improving, the society’s highly negative stance toward immigrants, as shown in Eurobarometer surveys, appears antithetical to solving these problems.

Progress is noted, but remains slow. More proactive and sustained measures to support vulnerable group are required. Policies should also aim at a new culture toward migrants and other marginalized groups to increase acceptance by both society and the authorities. The fact that the at-risk-of-poverty-or-social-exclusion rate for non-EU citizens was 40% in 2018 points to the vulnerability of these groups and the need for assistance.

Citations:
1. USA State Department Report on Human Rights, Cyprus -Released 2019, https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-trafficking-in-persons-report/cyprus/
2. GRETA visits Cyprus as part of the third evaluation round, 18 June 2019, https://www.coe.int/en/web/anti-human-trafficking/-/greta-visits-cyprus-as-part-of-the-third-evaluation-round
3. Ombudsman’s report on the legal framework regulating the living conditions of asylum-seekers outside the reception center (in Greek), 6 June 2019m http://www.ombudsman.gov.cy/Ombudsman/Ombudsman.nsf/All/DCA7E9260217FA42C2258415003552AD/$file/%CE%91%CE%A01799_2016_06062019.pdf?OpenElement

To what extent does the state concede and protect political liberties?

10
 9

All state institutions concede and effectively protect political liberties.
 8
 7
 6


All state institutions for the most part concede and protect political liberties. There are only few infringements.
 5
 4
 3


State institutions concede political liberties but infringements occur regularly in practice.
 2
 1

Political liberties are unsatisfactory codified and frequently violated.
Political Liberties
7
Political liberties and the protection of fundamental human rights are enshrined in the constitution and protected by law. NGOs and other associations flourish in Cyprus. New media have multiplied available channels for petitions, protests and rallies. However, the Church of Cyprus interferes in education and is a source of pressure on minorities. Also, isolated complaints have been reported on the state of places of worship and interferences with freedom of religion and worship rights.

Strong professional associations and trade unions continue to enjoy easier access to public authorities than weak groups, including citizens of Cyprus and abroad as well as citizens of third countries. The latter often require assistance from NGOs to claim their rights.

Libel was decriminalized in 2003 and courts in Cyprus apply European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case law to free expression. However, the number of libel cases remains high as does the number of threats by both public figures and businesses to sue for libel/defamation. This threatens citizens’ rights and the media’s capacity to scrutinize public life and serve as society’s watchdog.

Our overall evaluation takes into account the negative effect of the clientelist system on citizens’ liberties and rights, which persists with no decisive measures taken to combat it. Persons affiliated with parties are favored over free thinkers.

Citations:
1. Department of State Report Human Rights Practice 2018, Cyprus (released 2019) https://www.state.gov/reports/2018-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/cyprus/
2. Department of State, Report on International Religious Freedom 2018, Cyprus (released 2019), https://www.state.gov/reports/2018-report-on-international-religious-freedom/cyprus/
3. Anastasiades law firm calls on money laundering authority to investigate OCCRP claims, 27 August 2019, https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/08/27/anastasiades-law-firm-calls-on-money-laundering-authority-to-investigate-occrp-claims/

How effectively does the state protect against different forms of discrimination?

10
 9

State institutions effectively protect against and actively prevent discrimination. Cases of discrimination are extremely rare.
 8
 7
 6


State anti-discrimination protections are moderately successful. Few cases of discrimination are observed.
 5
 4
 3


State anti-discrimination efforts show limited success. Many cases of discrimination can be observed.
 2
 1

The state does not offer effective protection against discrimination. Discrimination is widespread in the public sector and in society.
Non-discrimination
7
Article 18 of the constitution guarantees equality and non-discrimination for all. It explicitly prohibits discrimination, as do specific laws that aim to protect rights and prevent discrimination on the grounds of gender, race or religion. Legislation also aims to proactively protect the rights of minority groups in various ways. However, no comprehensive policy framework exists that could effectively address the issue of equal and non-discriminatory treatment of all.

In line with relevant EU directives, laws on gender equality and against discrimination enforce equal treatment in employment and training. In practice, inequalities continue, with little progress achieved. Combating racism and other forms of discrimination and protecting persons with disabilities remain unattained goals. Disabled persons face problems in their movement and access to employment.

The adoption, in late 2015, of a law on civil partnerships and the recognition of a right to parental leave in 2017 are among the positive steps promoted in recent years.

In its conclusions published in June 2019, the Council of Europe’s ECRI observed that its 2016 recommendations relating to the Office of the Ombudsman acting as an anti-discrimination authority were only partly met. And though it “strongly recommended that the authorities develop a new integration plan for non-nationals,” including various foreign groups, its recommendation has not yet been implemented. The Gender Equality Index for Cyprus (56.3) was below the EU average (67.4) in 2019.

The 2019 murder of seven persons by a serial killer raised many questions. Critics argued that the disappearances were not properly investigated by police because the victims were foreign domestic workers.

Citations:
1. Cyprus serial killer case exposes abuse of migrant women, BBC, 2 May 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48110874
2. CoE European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, Conclusions on the Implementation of Recommendations, Cyprus, June 2019, https://rm.coe.int/interim-follow-up-conclusions-on-cyprus-5th-monitoring-cycle-/168094ce05

Rule of Law

#30

To what extent do government and administration act on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions to provide legal certainty?

10
 9

Government and administration act predictably, on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions. Legal regulations are consistent and transparent, ensuring legal certainty.
 8
 7
 6


Government and administration rarely make unpredictable decisions. Legal regulations are consistent, but leave a large scope of discretion to the government or administration.
 5
 4
 3


Government and administration sometimes make unpredictable decisions that go beyond given legal bases or do not conform to existing legal regulations. Some legal regulations are inconsistent and contradictory.
 2
 1

Government and administration often make unpredictable decisions that lack a legal basis or ignore existing legal regulations. Legal regulations are inconsistent, full of loopholes and contradict each other.
Legal Certainty
5
Following the collapse of bi-communality in 1964, the law of exception leaves the State with very powerful executive and “independent officers,” whom are subject to very little or no control. Decisions often exploit excessive discretionary powers of the Council of Ministers and other authorities, which show limited concern for rule of law principles.

A number of recent court decisions have confirmed the validity of questions raised regarding the legitimacy of measures to face the crisis. The latest (2019) court decision declared the cuts to pensions and salaries unconstitutional. Many laws passed by the parliament are ultimately judged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Action on important matters is either delayed or consists of partial measures that are inefficient or unjust. The ESTIA scheme designed to mitigate the impact of non-performing loans on the Cypriot banking system was amended after the European Commission and ECB warned of “moral hazard risks and fairness issues” and against some amendments being pursued by the parliament.

Revelations about the granting of citizenship to the Cambodian dictator’s family and a Malaysian citizen wanted by Interpol are indicative of actions that violated basic rules and legality.

Thus, actions inconsistent with the rule of law persisted in 2019. Clashes between various high-level state officials continued. These factors contributed to further undermining people’s trust, meritocracy, administrative efficiency and law enforcement.

Citations:
1. Estia scheme rewards strategic defaulters, Cyprus Mail, 3 September 2019, https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/09/03/our-view-estia-scheme-rewards-strategic-defaulters/
2. Data watchdog ‘duty-bound to report audit boss’ over whistleblower, Cyprus Mail, 21 December 2018, https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/12/21/data-watchdog-duty-bound-to-report-audit-boss-over-whistleblower/
3.More questions raised about Malaysian businessman’s passport, Cyprus Mail, 5 November 2019, https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/11/05/more-questions-raised-about-malaysian-businessmans-passport/

To what extent do independent courts control whether government and administration act in conformity with the law?

10
 9

Independent courts effectively review executive action and ensure that the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 8
 7
 6


Independent courts usually manage to control whether the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 5
 4
 3


Courts are independent, but often fail to ensure legal compliance.
 2
 1

Courts are biased for or against the incumbent government and lack effective control.
Judicial Review
8
The addition of the Administrative Court in 2016 had limited effect on lengthy court procedures that plague the administration of justice. A functional review of the courts found that cases take up to 9.5 years.

There are proposals and plans for resolving serious problems such as sluggish decision-making, a lack of material infrastructure and rules of procedure that negatively affect the efficiency of the courts. However, at present, judicial review remains highly problematic. In addition, the judiciary’s integrity was subject to question in late 2018 when claims of nepotism and links between justices’ families and leading law firms emerged. These developments prompted a GRECO extraordinary mission to Cyprus, though no relevant report has thus far been made public..

Decisions by trial courts, administrative bodies and other authorities are reviewed by the Administrative Court and (appellate) Supreme Court. Appeals are decided by panels of three or five judges, with important cases requiring a full quorum (13 judges).

Citations:
1. Functional review of the Court system of Cyprus, http://www.supremecourt.gov.cy/Judicial/SC.nsf/All/4FAD54FDA1155764C225825F003DC397?OpenDocument
2. If only our judges were capable of showing humility, Cyprus Mail, 20 January 2019, https://cyprus-mail.com/old/2019/01/20/our-view-if-only-our-judges-were-capable-of-showing-humility/

To what extent does the process of appointing (supreme or constitutional court) justices guarantee the independence of the judiciary?

10
 9

Justices are appointed in a cooperative appointment process with special majority requirements.
 8
 7
 6


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies with special majority requirements or in a cooperative selection process without special majority requirements.
 5
 4
 3


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies without special majority requirements.
 2
 1

All judges are appointed exclusively by a single body irrespective of other institutions.
Appointment of Justices
7
The judicial system functions on the basis of the 1960 constitution, albeit with modifications to reflect the circumstances prevailing after the collapse of bicommunal government in 1964. The Supreme Council of Judicature (SCJ), composed of all 13 judges of the Supreme Court, appoints, promotes and places justices, except those of the Supreme Court. The latter are appointed by the president of the republic upon the recommendation of the Supreme Court. By tradition, nominees are drawn from the ranks of the judiciary. GRECO 2016 recommendations to deepen participation in the SCJ by including trial court judges and rendering the procedure and criteria for selecting judges more transparent were at best only partially implemented. Similarly, the recommendation to institute a process for representation within the judiciary was also not followed. In late 2018, claims of nepotism and the corruption of justices were lodged; GRECO is expected to publish a special report regarding these claims.
In 2019, the EU recommended that Cyprus accelerate the pace of reforms in the judicial system (e.g., establish a commercial court, promote e-justice and strengthen the enforcement of decisions).

The gender balance within the judiciary as a whole is approximately 60% male to 40% female. Four (five until October 2019) of the 13 Supreme Court justices and five of the seven Administrative Court justices are female.

Citations:
1. Council of Europe, GRECO fourth evaluation round, published September 2018, https://rm.coe.int/fourth-evaluation-round-corruption-prevention-in-respect-of-members-of/16808d267b
2. Greco suggestions ‘not optional,’ Cyprus Mail, 9 February 2019, https://cyprus-mail.com/old/2019/02/09/greco-suggestions-not-optional/

To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

10
 9

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 8
 7
 6


Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
 5
 4
 3


Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 2
 1

Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption Prevention
3
Numerous cases of corruption resulted in the conviction of officials and others since 2014. However, the EU urged Cyprus in 2019 to accelerate the pace of reforms and strengthen the capacity of law enforcement, as provided in an 2017 anti-corruption national plan.

GRECO observed in 2018 that only two out of 16 anti-corruption recommendations from 2016 were implemented. Cyprus tops the list of countries regarding non-compliance to recommendations on issues relating to parliamentarians and holds a poor record of overall compliance. On issues in which GRECO considered implementation satisfactory, such as party financing, practice revealed loopholes and problems in policies that seriously affect efficiency.

In 2019, the European Commission observed that the adoption of laws for an independent anti-corruption agency and whistleblower protection were still pending. Though introduced years ago, we note that no evaluation mechanisms or reports exist on the implementation of codes of conduct for the public service and ministers.

The credibility of anti-corruption efforts was severely tarnished when convicted politicians were freed before completing half of their sentences. Also, official reactions to criticism on the citizenship-by-investment scheme and other issues tend to deflect attention from the substance of the problem and its potential to induce corruption.

Citations:
1. Cyprus amongst worst offenders in corruption report, 26 June 2019, https://www.news.cyprus-property-buyers.com/2019/06/26/cyprus-amongst-worst-offenders-corruption-report/id=00156859
2. ‘Unfair for Cyprus to be singled out for golden visa criticism,’ Cyprus Mail, 1 December 2018, https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/12/18/unfair-for-cyprus-to-be-singled-out-for-golden-visa-criticism/
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