5 June 2012
-PRESS RELEASE –
CYPRUS: FALSE ACCUSATION CONFIRMED
JUDGE DROPS ALLCHARGES AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER DOROS POLYCARPOU
On 5 June 2012, Doros Polycarpou, the Executive Director ofCypriot anti-racist NGO KISA, was acquitted of the charge of rioting during the2010 Rainbow Festival in Larnaca. This decision is final and is not open forappeal. The judge found the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses to be not credible.
This ruling confirms the view of a widecoalition of international NGOs: the accusations were manifestly false andrepresented only the most recent in a series of attempts by the Cypriotauthorities to silence KISA, an organisation that hasbeing fighting xenophobia and racism in Cyprusfor 14 years. We regret the charges were not withdrawn before such a lengthytrial took place.
We deplore that, despite repeated requests tothe Attorney General and the Council of Ministers, no independent investigationwas carried out about the events occurred in Larnaca in 2010, in particularwith respect to the alleged failure of police to protect the Rainbow Festival’sparticipants. More than a year and a half later, no one has been charged withthe crimes which resulted in serious injuries and hospitalisation of people thatparticipated in the Festival. The evidence points to the fact that attackerswere motivated by xenophobia and racism.
This case is emblematic of the vigilanceneeded to confront this growing phenomenon in Europe and to support those defendingthe rights of refugees and migrants. Cyprus is about to take over the EUPresidency in July. It announces it will address the issue of the integrationof migrants and the Common European Asylum System as priorities. We recommendthat the Cyprus government ensures a conduciveenvironment in which NGOs and other human rights defenders can carry out theirmission.
We urge the Cypriot authorities to use theoccasion of Doros Polycarpou’s acquittal to mark the beginning of newcooperation between the Cyprus state and human rights defenders.
EuropeanAssociation for Human Rights/ Association Européenne des droits de l’Homme(AEDH)
Euro-MediterraneanNetwork for Human Rights
EuropeanNetwork Against Racism
FahamuRefugee Legal Aid Programme
Observatoryfor the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (joint programme OMCT-FIDH)
Platformfor International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants