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Media Watch 2005

02 June 2005
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author:
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 2 June 2005.
Government rejects allegations in Amnesty International report
"The government has rejected allegations made by Amnesty International claiming that there was no freedom of speech and alleging intimidation attempts during the period before last year’s referendum on the Annan Plan... Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said there were such accusations against the government at the time, "which however were, and still are unfounded and do not respond to reality."... The report avoided any reference to Turkey’s responsibility for the violations of fundamental human rights in Turkish-occupied north Cyprus, or of Turkey’s refusal to fully implement the judgements of the Human Rights Court of the Council of Europe that support the right of the Greek Cypriot refugees to return and to regain their properties.""

The government has rejected allegations made by Amnesty International claiming that there was no freedom of speech and alleging intimidation attempts during the period before last year’s referendum on the Annan Plan.

Amnesty’s annual report said that during the pre-referendum period ``the government was accused of failing to show due diligence in carrying out its duty to protect the rights to freedom of expression, and there were allegations of attempts to intimidate individuals into rejecting the plan.’’

Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said there were such accusations against the government at the time, ``which however were, and still are unfounded and do not respond to reality.’’

Opposition leader Nicos Anastasiades himself made such accusations at the time, even in a letter to the European Union, but following strong government denials that pointed out the intensive media coverage and public discussions on the issue, he withdrew his accusation and apoligised.

Chrysostomides complained that while referring to the allegations, Amnesty should also have reported the government reaction. The report on Cyprus repeats the findings of the Cyprus government Ombudsman that there were continuintg concerns about conditions of detention, discrimination against Roma and the provisions covering conscientious objection to military service.

Amnesty’s report on Turkey said that "the government introduced further legal and other reforms with the aim of bringing Turkish law into line with international standards. However, implementation of these reforms was patchy and broad restrictions on the exercise of fundamental rights remained in law. Despite positive changes to detention regulations, torture and ill-treatment by security forces continued. The use of excessive force against demonstrators remained a serious concern.

Those responsible for such violations were rarely brought to justice. Those who attempted to exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully or express dissent on certain issues continued to face criminal prosecution or other sanctions. State offficials failed to take adequate steps to prevent and punish violence against women".

The report avoided any reference to Turkey’s responsibility for the violations of fundamental human rights in Turkish-occupied north Cyprus, or of Turkey’s refusal to fully implement the judgements of the Human Rights Court of the Council of Europe that support the right of the Greek Cypriot refugees to return and to regain their properties."