28 May, 2008
Turkey will have to assume responsibility with regard to illegal immigration in Cyprus, whose northern areas it occupies since 1974, a European Parliament Committee has said.
The European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs is determined to call on the competent European Commissioner in order to urge Turkey to undertake responsibility regarding the problem of illegal immigration in Cyprus, Committee President Martine Roure told a press conference here on Tuesday.
Speaking at the end of a two-day visit here by a Committee delegation, she said the purpose of the visit was to evaluate the reception places of asylum seekers and the conditions under which illegal immigrants are being kept.
She said that the number of detainees here is relatively small, around 200 persons and expressed satisfaction with the fact that "here asylum seekers have freedom of movement, which we very much appreciate."
On the other hand, Roure expressed dismay at the lengthy procedures required for the examination of applications for political asylum and
stressed the need to speed up this process.
She also mentioned that the delegation visited detention centres here, meaning state prisons, and found them to be clean and without any particular problems in comparison, as she said, with similar establishments in other countries, which she described as "hell."
As she noted, the majority of illegal immigrants arrive in the Republic through the northern Turkish occupied areas, something she said is "a serious problem which Turkey is to blame for."
"Turkey applied to join the EU and so it must take its responsibilities and show solidarity," she said, adding that the Green Line dividing the occupied areas from the southern government controlled part of the country "is very difficult to be monitored by the Republic authorities."
She assured that the Committee in the forthcoming days will be calling on the competent European Commissioner to urge Turkey to take its responsibilities on the matter.
Asked to say whether complains have been forwarded to the committee from non-governmental organisations as regards the detention conditions of immigrants and incidents of torture against them, she said the Committee delegation "had the opportunity to speak with detainees freely and none of them had mentioned anything about torture against them."
Source: Athens News Agency