Cyprus is a Member State of the Council of Europe (COE) and of the United Nations (UN), and has human rights obligations at the regional and universal levels.
Regional: European System
As a Member of the COE, Cyprus has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and is subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. Cyprus has ratified the Revised European Social Charter, and has authorized the European Committee of Social Rights to decide collective complaints against it. Its human rights policies and practices are also monitored by the COE Commissioner for Human Rights, who identifies gaps in human rights protection, conducts country visits, engages in dialogue with States, and prepares thematic reports and advice.
Individuals and groups have submitted complaints of human rights violations committed by Cyprus to the European Court of Human Rights. For example, the Court considered a complaint from a Syrian refugee alleging that his deportation to Syria without the opportunity to appeal the decision constituted inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation of the right to life. See ECtHR, M.A. v. Cyprus, no. 41872/10, ECHR 2013, Judgment of 23 July 2013. Additionally, the Court may grant interim measures to protect people in urgent situations of risk in Cyprus.
As a State party to the Revised European Social Charter, Cyprus must submit regular reports to the European Committee of Social Rights on its implementation of the Charter’s provisions. The Committee has also received collective complaints against Cyprus. For instance, the Committee admitted a complaint alleging that the lack of domestic legislation explicitly prohibiting corporal punishment in Cyprus violates the rights of children to protection. See ECSR, Association for the Protection of all Children (APPROACH) Ltd v. Cyprus, Complaint No. 97/2013, Admissibility, 2 July 2013.
Cyprus is a party to the following regional human rights treaties:
- European Convention on Human Rights and several of its protocols
- Revised European Social Charter
- COE Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence
- COE Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
- European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
United Nations System
As a UN Member State, Cyprus is subject to the oversight of various UN human rights bodies, including the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review and thematic special procedures. As a party to specific universal human rights treaties, Cyprus’s policies and practices are monitored by UN treaty bodies. It has accepted the complaints procedure of five treaty bodies.
Cyprus has ratified the following UN human rights treaties:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
Cyprus has submitted a reservation that modifies its obligations under the CRPD.
Cyprus has also ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aimed at abolishing the death penalty, and optional protocols to the CRC addressing children in armed conflict and the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. Cyprus has a duty to submit State reports to the UN treaty body associated with each UN human rights treaty Cyprus has ratified. These reports must be submitted on a periodic basis, and describe the steps Cyprus has taken to implement the treaty provisions.
Cyprus has also ratified optional protocols and made appropriate declarations allowing individuals to submit complaints against the State alleging violations of the ICCPR, CEDAW, CAT, CRPD, and CERD. Additionally, certain UN treaties contain inquiry procedures, which allow the UN treaty body to consider allegations of grave or systematic human rights violations. Cyprus has accepted the inquiry procedures of the CAT, CEDAW, and CRPD.
In March 2001, Cyprus extended a standing invitation to UN special procedures, which means that any such mandate holders are welcome to conduct visits in Cyprus. For example, the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of religion or belief visited Cyprus in March 2012 and published a report on that visit in December 2012.
For more information on Cyprus’s engagement with UN human rights bodies, visit http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/CYIndex.aspx.
Last updated: January 2020