URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY
CYP 002 / 1220 / OBS 142
Administrative harassment /
Obstacles to freedom of association
December 23, 2020
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cyprus.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) about the deregistration of KISA, an NGO that works for the rights of migrants and denounces cases of racism and hate speech.
On December 14, 2020, the Ministry of Interior of Cyprus announced the removal of KISA from the Register of Associations and Foundations for allegedly having failed to submit audited accounts and to conduct statutory and electoral assemblies since August 2020. Under the Amendment 118 (I)/2020 of the 2017 Law on Associations and Foundations and Other Related Issues, the deregistration of an NGO is irreversible and entails the prohibition of continuing its action.
On August 27, 2020 the Ministry of Interior had published a list of 2827 NGOs, including KISA, informing about their placement in a "dissolution process" for their alleged failure to submit the documents required by the Amendment of the 2017 Law on Associations and Foundations. Furthermore, the Ministry of Interior granted an additional delay until October 26, 2020 to the concerned NGOs to submit the documentation.
On November 27, 2020, the Registrar of Associations rejected KISA’s submission on the grounds of not formally complying with the deadlines for submitting the relevant information to the Registrar of Associations and informed the organisation it would be included in the second list of associations for dissolution, even though KISA had met the deadline.
The Observatory underlines that the deregistration of KISA is not an isolated incident but is part of a series of attacks and acts of harassment against KISA for its work defending human rights, including the arbitrary detention of the Executive Director of the organisation, Doros Polykarpou, on August 2, 2019, and the sentencing of the organisation on “defamation” and “harmful forgery” charges on June 22, 2020.
The Observatory expresses its deep concern over the deregistration of KISA, as it establishes an unjustified restriction to freedom of assembly and sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the right to defend human rights in Cyprus. In that regard, the Observatory recalls that Cyprus has an international obligation to protect human rights defenders and particularly, their right to hold opinions without interference and to denounce human rights abuses, under Art. 6 and 12 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Please write to the authorities of Cyprus to urge them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of the members of KISA;
ii. Put an end to any kind of harassment, including at the administrative and judicial level, against KISA and all human rights defenders and organisations in Cyprus, and ensure that they are not criminalised as retaliation to their legitimate human rights activities;
iii. Ensure that any legislation adopted on the regulation of NGOs fully conforms to Cyprus’ national and international human rights obligations and ensure that the adoption of such a legislation is preceded by effective and meaningful consultation with CSOs and consideration of their concerns and recommendations;
iv. Guarantee in all circumstances the right to freedom of association enshrined in Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
- President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Minister of Justice Ms. Emily Yiolitis Email: email@example.com
- Police Service of Cyprus, Chief of Police Stelios Papatheodorou, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the EU, Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou, Email: email@example.com
- Permanent Mission of Cyprus to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador George Kasoulides, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Embassy of Cyprus in Brussels, Belgium, Ambassador Antonis Grivas, Εmail: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Cyprus in your respective countries.
Geneva-Paris, December 23, 2020
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
- E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39
- Tel FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18