Every year, hundreds of people who flee to Cyprus to escape persecution, war or simply grinding poverty are put behind bars and detained as if they were criminals, even though they have committed no crime. Most are detained for months, often in poor conditions without access to adequate medical care and usually unable to challenge the lawfulness of their detention due to the paucity of free legal aid. In some cases, the Cypriot authorities refuse to free people even when the Supreme Court has ordered their release.
Some of those detained have made the difficult decision to flee their homes to find safety and are exercising their right to apply for asylum and be free from persecution. Pending a decision on their asylum application, they are in an extremely vulnerable position and should not be subject to immigration detention except in the most exceptional circumstances as prescribed by international and regional law and standards.