NICOSIA — Europe’s top human rights body said Cypriot police authorities have to take steps to prevent physical abuse against detainees amid “credible allegations” that officers, slapped, punched and kicked people in custody, including foreign nationals.
In a report April 26, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CPT) said police officers must be made to understand that such abuse is a crime that they’ll be prosecuted for.
Cyprus authorities said there was a “zero tolerance” policy on such behavior and have revamped officer training and turned abuse investigations over to the Attorney-General.
The CPT also urged the construction of a new psychiatric hospital because the existing one is “substantially below standard,” and advised authorities to alleviate prison overcrowding.
In 2016, two police officers caught on tape beating up a man in a holding cell in 2014 were found guilty by the Paphos Criminal Court.
A video of the beating was published on social media in August 2015 and showed the victim being beaten by one of the officers repeatedly with a truncheon, beginning on camera and continuing off-camera for a longer period. The second officer looks on but later joins in with a few kicks while the man is on the ground.
The clip showed the victim sitting in a cell when two policemen approach him and as he is sprayed in face with what appears to be pepper spray, backed into a corner before one cop violently and repeatedly beat him with a truncheon.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)