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The island of Cyprus is situated in Asia, to the south of Turkey and southeast of Greece. Cyprus was a British colony from 1878 to 1914, and a crown colony from 1925 to 1960[1]. Cyprus gained independence from the British in 1960[2].

Cyprus consists of two geographical regions: the Republic of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus. Northern Cyprus is occupied by Turkey, the only country that recognizes it as distinct from the Republic of Cyprus[3]. The United Nations does not endorse Turkey’s recognition of Northern Cyprus as a country and currently maintains a buffer zone, through peace-keeping efforts, between both areas[4]. The Republic of Cyprus housed a population of 888,000 in 2020, with 1.2 million people living on the island of Cyprus[5].

The occupation of Northern Cyprus was a consequence of longstanding conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Since its time as a British colony, Greek Cypriots have opposed Turkey’s position of incorporating Cyprus as part of Turkey, and the occupation of Northern Cyprus in 1974 was a response to a coup by the Greek-military junta to overthrow the Cypriot government[6]. Turkey had sent troops to Cyprus, displacing 40% of the Greek Cypriot population from the upper-third of Cyprus now known as Northern Cyprus[7]. Since 1974, the United Nations has formed a “Green Line” that divides both parts of the island and facilitated reunification talks between both factions[8].

Despite the conflict between the Republic of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus, Cyprus is considered a “High Income” country according to the World Bank[9]. Cyprus boasted a 3.2% G.D.P. growth in 2019[10], that fell to -5.10% in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic[11], with an unemployment rate of 7.1% as of March 2021[12]. Cyprus relies on a few key economic sectors for growth: tourism; food and beverage processing; cement and gypsum production; ship repair and refurbishment. In 2019, 22.3% of people in Cyprus lived at risk of poverty[13].


Cyprus is a presidential republic[14], with the President of Cyprus exercising executive power[15] and being given “precedence over all persons in the Republic[16].” The President must be of Greek origin, elected by the Greek populace, and the Vice-President must be of Turkish origin, elected by the Turkish Communities of Cyprus[17]. Both officials are elected through majority vote[18], occurring on the same day[19], and individuals running for either position must be citizens of Cyprus and older than thirty-five years of age[20]. However, candidates must not have been convicted of an offence involving “dishonesty or moral turpitude,” be disqualified for an electoral offence, nor suffer from incapacity due to a mental disease[21]. Both officials hold office for a tenure of five years[22]. The President and Vice-President are given special pardon[23], and veto powers (exercised separately or conjointly), the latter only concerning law or decisions of the House of Representatives concerning foreign affairs, defence and security[24].

The current President of Cyprus is Nicos Anastasiades of the Democratic Rally party (“DISY”).[25] Mr. Anastasiades had won 35.51% of the total votes in the February 2018 presidential election[26]. DISY is also the majority party in the House of Representatives, holding eighteen seats out of fifty-six. DISY, a liberal-conservative party, was established in 1976, after the 1974 coup by the Greek military-junta[27]. The party’s ideology revolves around free enterprise economic policies and a solution to the intercommunal problem between Northern and Republic of Cyprus[28]. DISY is explicitly pro-Western and pro-NATO[29].

Legislative System

Legislative power is exercised by the House of Representatives, except those expressly reserved to the Communal Chambers[30]. Bills can be introduced by Representatives or Ministers[31], except those pertaining to an increase in budget (which can only be introduced by Ministers)[32]. Laws and decisions of the House of Representatives are passed by majority vote in the House[33], although the President and Vice-President are given special veto powers in matters of foreign affairs, defence, and security[34]. Modifications to Electoral Law, municipality law, and law imposing duties or taxes, require a separate simple majority by Representatives elected by the Greek and Turkish communities respectively[35]. Besides the legislative procedure outlined, laws are legally valid if they were in force on the day the Constitution became effective[36]. The executive branch may also make law in times of emergency, with the Council of Ministers given the power to issue Proclamations of Emergency[37]. However, these “emergency laws” must be confirmed by the House[38] and may be vetoed by the President or Vice-President[39].

Representatives are elected by proportional representation[40] for a period of five years[41], and receive Public Revenue remuneration for their service[42]. The House may be dissolved prior to the end of a five-year term by decision of an absolute majority, including a third of the Representatives elected by the Turkish Community[43]. While the Constitution provides for a baseline of fifty Representatives[44], this number has been altered in recent years and, as of May 30, 2021, there are fifty-six Representatives in the House[45]. Seventy percent of House Representatives are elected by Greek-Cypriots, with the remaining thirty percent elected by Turkish-Cypriots[46]. Representatives must be Cyprus citizens and at least twenty-five years of age[47]. The same limitations to Presidential candidacy apply to Representatives[48]. The President of the House of Representatives shall be Greek and the Vice-President shall be a Turk, elected by their respective communities[49]. As of May 30, 2021, DISY holds the most number of seats in the House (eighteen) against its communist opponent AKEL (sixteen). DIKO holds nine seats, EDEK, SYPOL, Solidarity hold three seats respectively, and KOSP and ELAM hold two seats respectively.

Judicial System

The Cyprus judicial system comprises of the Supreme Court (formed after a merger between the Supreme Constitutional Court and High Court) and its subordinate courts (District, Assize, Family, Labour, Rent Control, and Military Courts)[50]. The Supreme Court is the highest court of Cyprus and constitutes the Supreme Council of Judicature, dealing with the “appointment, promotion, transfer, termination of appointment, dismissal and disciplinary matters of judicial officers[51].”

The Supreme Court is composed of “two Greek judges, one Turkish judge and a neutral judge.”[52] The neutral judge is appointed as the President of the Court and has two votes[53]. The President of the Court is appointed for a period of six years[54]. Judges of the Supreme Court are to be jointly appointed by the President and Vice-President of Cyprus[55], although, in the event of disagreement, the Greek or Turkish Community’s preference will take priority in accordance with the nationality of the judge to be appointed[56]. Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed as permanent members of the judiciary, and hold office until the age of sixty-eight.[57] The age of retirement for judges of subordinate courts is sixty-three[58]. There is no right to a trial by jury in Cyprus[59].

Legal System

Cyprus, being a past British colony until 1960, follows the English common law system[60]. However, Cyprus law is derived from multiple sources: the Constitution; laws retained in force at the time of the Constitution’s enactment[61];common law and equity; and laws enacted by the House of Representatives. After acceding to the European Union in 2004, the Cyprus Constitution was amended to grant legislative supremacy to European law, over that of the Constitution and national legislation[62].

Criminal Procedure

Constitutional protection in criminal proceedings is afforded by Art. 11(2) of the Constitution, under which “[n]o person shall be deprived of his liberty save … when and as provided by law.” Provisions on criminal procedure can be found in Criminal Procedure Law Cap. 155.


Police officers may “investigate into the commission of any offence”[63] and the Governor may authorize “any person … who appears to him to be competent for the purpose, to investigate into the commission of any offence.”[64] A suspect may be arrested under a range of circumstances, depending on whether he/she is the subject of an arrest warrant. A suspect may be arrested under warrant when the Judge deems it “necessary or desirable.”[65] The requirements of form and duration of arrest warrants may be found under section 19 of Cap. 155. Where a suspect is arrested under warrant, he must be informed that there is a “warrant for his apprehension unless there is reasonable cause for abstaining from giving such information on the ground that it is likely to occasion escape, resistance or rescue.”[66] The suspect must thereafter be brought “as soon as practicable” before the Court which issued the warrant[67].

In contrast, arrests without judicial warrants are unconstitutional, except where “provided by law in case of a flagrant offence punishable with death or imprisonment” or where a European arrest warrant has been issued[68]. As explained in Kyriakides v. The Police 1 R.S.C.C. 66, “flagrant” means that the commission of the crime and arrest of the suspect must follow each other “directly in point of time and sequence.” These grounds of arrest (without a warrant) are elaborated on in section 14(1) of Cap. 155, except where the “enactment creating the [offence] provides that the offender cannot be arrested without a warrant,”[69] unless the suspect refuses to give his “name and address or gives a name or address which the police officer suspects to be false.” Private persons may also arrest suspects without warrant under the grounds stipulated in section 15(1).

When making an arrest, the police officer (or “other person making an arrest”) may touch or confine the subject of arrest, unless the subject had submitted to custody “by word or action.”[70] Different provisions govern the search of an arrested/unarrested person, depending on whether there is a warrant out for his/her arrest. Section 10(1) grants police officers the power to search arrested persons, “using such force as may be reasonably necessary for such purpose and may seize any article or document found in the possession of such person which such police officer has sufficient reason to believe may form material evidence against the person searched, or any other person, on a criminal charge.” If the police officer does not have an arrest warrant, he still has the authority to “detain and search any person whom he reasonably suspects of carrying, conveying or concealing any article or document in respect of which any offence is about to be committed or is being committed or has recently been committed,”[71] and to “enter upon and search any place” according to the conditions under section 25(1)(b). Where a police officer (or “one having authority to arrest whether under a warrant or not”) is pursuing a suspect evading arrest, the authority figure is given “free ingress [to a place] and shall afford all reasonable facilities to search therein for the person sought to be arrested.”[72]

When the arrested person is taken to a police station, he “shall, without delay, be informed of the charge against him.”[73] Each suspect must also be informed of his rights under Art. 17 of Act N.163(I)/2005[74]. While in custody, arrested persons must be given “reasonable facilities for obtaining legal advice for taking steps to obtain bail and otherwise for making arrangements for his defence or release.”[75] Arrested persons are also given the right to “personally contact a lawyer” following his/her arrest, “without any other person being present.”[76] Charges must follow the form specified by section 38 Cap. 155, and must be framed according to section 39. Under section 154(1), the Attorney-General may dismiss charges by entering a nolle prosequi. This would entail a discharge of the suspect[77], although the dismissal of charges does not act as a “bar to any subsequent proceedings against [the suspect] for the same offence or on account of the same facts.”[78]

Pre-trial Detention

After an arrest, arrested persons must be brought before a judge “as soon as is practicable after his arrest, and in any event not later than twenty-four hours after the arrest.”[79] There are a number of ways in which an arrested person may be released after arrest. If an arrested person was detained without a warrant for “an offence other than an offence punishable with death,” and if said person was unable to appear before a Court within twenty-four hours, the officer in charge may release the person on bond, “unless the offence appears to the officer to be of a serious nature” while investigating the case.[80] However, if the officer decides to retain the arrested person in custody, the officer must bring said person “before a Judge as soon as practicable.” In the event the officer is unable to complete the investigation immediately, the officer may release the arrested person upon “entering into a recognizance” that the arrested person must “appear at such police station and at such time as is named in the recognizance.”[81] The officer may also, in writing, waive the service of such recognizance. After investigating, the police may release arrested persons after concluding that there is insufficient evidence to prove the charge against an arrested person.[82]

Where a judge had initially issued a warrant for the arrested person’s arrest, the judge may, “if he thinks fit,” release the arrested person on bond unless the person was accused of committing an “offence punishable with death.”[83] However, a judge has the discretion to retain arrested persons in custody for a period “not exceeding eight days at any one time,” if the investigation against said person has not been completed, and if a police officer “not below the rank of an inspector” makes such application[84]. This is consistent with the constitutional protections given to arrested persons, under which a judge shall either release a person or remand him “for a period not exceeding eight days at any one time,” “[p]rovided that the total period of such remand in custody shall not exceed three months of the date of the arrest.” The right of an accused person to be released is severely curtailed, where the alleged offence committed may be punishable by death. A person who has been sentenced to death cannot be released on bail under any circumstances, and a person who is “charged of any offence punishable with death” shall only be released on bail “by an order of a Judge of the Supreme Court.”[85] The hearing of an accused person’s case is governed by the procedures under section 74(1) of Cap. 155. The accused has the right to be “present at the Court during the whole of the trial so long as he conducts himself properly.”[86] If the accused fails to do so, the Court may “direct him to be removed and kept in custody,” while proceeding with his trial.[87]

Right to Defense

The Cypriot Constitution protects the right to defense of accused persons. Article 11(4) of the Constitution safeguards this right in two main ways: first, the arrested person “shall be informed at the time of his arrest in a language which he understands of the reasons for his arrest,” and second, such person shall “be allowed to have the services of a lawyer of his own choosing.”[88] The accused person may also be represented by a court-appointed advocate, depending on the “gravity, difficulty or other circumstances of the case [that may] make it desirable in the interests of justice.”[89] Persons who are “tried for an offence punishable with death” are entitled to a court-appointed advocate.


Generally, there is no appeal in criminal cases except as provided by Part V. of Cap. 155[90], and there is no appeal after an acquittal “except at the instance or with the written sanction of the Attorney-General.”[91] There are, however, exceptions to this general rule. First, persons who are convicted by an Assize Court “and sentenced to death or to any term of imprisonment or to a fine exceeding twenty pounds” may appeal to the Supreme Court, under the conditions stipulated in section 132(1) of Cap. 155. The threshold for appeal is lower for persons convicted by a District Court, as persons who are “sentenced to any term of imprisonment or to a fine, exceeding ten pounds” may appeal their conviction[92]. However, both situations are qualified by sections 135 (“plea of guilt”) and 136 (“certain cases of imprisonment”) of the Law. Under section 135, a person who has pleaded guilty to a crime may only appeal their sentence, unless it is fixed by Law[93], or against his/her conviction “on the ground that the facts alleged in the charge or information to which [the person] pleaded guilty did not disclose any offence.”[94] Under section 136, there is no appeal in cases where a person had been imprisoned “for failure to comply with an order for the payment of any penalty or other money, for finding sureties, for entering into any recognizance or for giving any security.” Second, the Attorney-General may, on his/her own initiative, “appeal or sanction an appeal” from a judgment of acquittal under the circumstances specified in section 137[95]. The Attorney-General may also appeal or sanction an appeal from a judgment of a District Court, based on the sufficiency of a sentence[96]. All notices of appeal, and application for leave to do as such must adhere to the form stipulated in section 138. However, the Judge of a Supreme Court has the discretion to refuse leave to appeal. Where an accused person has been sentenced, sections 147(1) and (2) govern the commencement and suspension of said person’s sentence after appeal. If the accused person has been sentenced to imprisonment, his/her sentence runs “from the date of the judgment of the Supreme Court determining the appeal.”[97] If the accused person’s conviction is quashed, the appellant shall “be set at liberty and any penalty, if already paid, shall be refunded.”[98] Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has wide discretion in issuing directions “in respect of further proceedings and of the custody of the appellant or his release on bail or the suspension of the payment of any penalty as it may deem fit.”[99]

Rights of Accused

There are three main sources of law concerning the rights of accused persons: the Constitution; the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”); and the Law on the Rights of Persons who are Arrested and Detained (“Act N.163(I)/2005”).

General Principles

The Cypriot Constitution enshrines several fundamental principles, including but not limited to: (a) The presumption of innocence; (b) The protection of Accused Persons from ex post facto laws; (c) The prohibition of double jeopardy; and (d) The principle of proportionate punishment. In addition, the Constitution provides a floor to the rights enjoyed by accused persons. At a minimum, accused persons must: be informed, “promptly and in a language” understandable by him, about the “nature and grounds of the charge preferred against him;” have “adequate time and facilities” to prepare his defence; be given a right to counsel; be able to “examine or have examined witnesses against him” and to have his own witnesses present “under the same conditions as witnesses against him;” and to “have the free assistance of an interpreter” if the accused person is unable to understand the language of the court. In addition to these rights, accused persons also enjoy the following rights:

Right to Equal Protection

The Constitution affords accused persons the right to equal protection, regardless of their “community, race, religion, language, sex, political or other convictions, national or social descent, birth, colour, wealth,” and “social class.” This principle of equal protection extends to accused persons who may have “any title of nobility” or any other form of “social distinction.” However, the right to equal protection is not absolute, and may be curtailed if there are “express provision[s] to the contrary” in the Constitution.

Right to Public, Fair Trial

The right to fair trial is safeguarded by Art. 30 of the Cyprus Constitution, and Art. 6 of ECHR. Under Art. 30 of the Constitution, accused persons are guaranteed access to “the court assigned to [them] by or under th[e] Constitution,” and the state may not establish “judicial committees or exceptional courts.” A fair, public hearing must be conducted “within a reasonable time by an independent, impartial and competent court” that is established by law. Accused persons are also entitled to exclude the press and public, if: it is “in the interest of the security of the Republic;” it is in the interest of the public and constitutional order; it has a bearing on “public safety or the public morals;” it bears on the “interests of juveniles;” or compromises the protection afforded to the “private life of the parties.” The court also has discretion to exclude the press or public where “publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.” In defining what constitutes a fair trial, the Constitution lays out basic rights accused persons are entitled to: (a) A right to be “informed of the reasons why [the accused person] is required to appear before the court;” (b) A right to “present his case before the court” and be given sufficient time to prepare for his defence;” (c) A right to “adduce or cause to be adduced his evidence and to examine witnesses according to law;” (d) A right to “have a lawyer of his own choice and to have free legal assistance” in the interests of justice, and as provided by law; and (e) A right to “have free assistance of an interpreter” where the accused person does not understand nor speak the language of the court.

Right to Life

The Constitution imposes limits on the criminal justice system, to respect the “right to life and corporal integrity” of accused persons. Accused persons may only be sentenced to death when convicted of “premeditated murder, high treason, piracy jure gentium and capital offences under military law.” Nonetheless, Art. 7 permits death of accused persons to be caused under limited circumstances, if: (a) Such death is necessary for the defence of person or property “against the infliction of a proportionate and otherwise unavoidable and irreparable evil;” (b) Such death is necessary to “effect an arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;” or if (c) Such death is caused for “the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection, when and as provided by law.”

Prohibition of Cruel Treatment and Torture

“[T]orture” and “inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment” are prohibited under Art. 8 of the Constitution and Art. 3 of the ECHR. ECHR case law suggests that cruel treatment includes: (a) The holding of accused persons in adequate conditions where, inter alia, there is a “lack of possibility for outdoor exercise, limited personal space in cells, as well as lack of natural light and fresh air;” and (b) Subjecting accused persons to “stringent custodial regime[s]” in solitary confinement, which includes a “prohibition on visits” and poor “material conditions” in which the accused person is detained.

Right to liberty and security

Accused persons are entitled to rights of liberty and security, except in situations delineated under Art. 11(2). In the event accused persons are detained and denied these rights, they must be “informed at the time of [their] arrest,” in a language understandable by them, of the reasons for their arrest, and should be permitted “to have the services of a lawyer of [their] own choosing.” This right to counsel includes a right to access a lawyer from the first interrogation by police, unless it is shown that there are “compelling reasons to restrict this right.” Even then, however, the curtailment of access to counsel cannot prejudice the rights of the accused, in violation of Art. 6 ECHR. Accused persons are also given additional rights during their time in detention, in accordance with Act N.163(I)/2005. Accused persons may meet with “any relative” or person of their choice for up to an hour in total, in a private section of the detention center with police or prison staff present. If the accused person is a foreigner, the accused person may also receive Consulate representatives or diplomats from their country of nationality and, if these individuals are unavailable, the foreigner may receive representatives of international or national human rights organizations.

Right to Privacy

Accused persons are also protected in their right to privacy, with respect to “correspondence and other communication if such other communication is made through means not prohibited by law.” However, this right to privacy may be curtailed under the limited situations presented under Art. 17(2), including but not limited to the “prevention, investigation or prosecution” of “serious criminal offences.” The right to privacy of accused persons is given further clarity by provisions under section 12 of Act N. 163(I)/2005. Accused persons are entitled to confidential interviews with their lawyers in the detention facility they are being held, out of reach from police or prison staff. This right may be exercised at any day and time, and police/prison staff may not restrict this right. Special considerations also apply to detainees under the age of 18, enabling them to attend interviews with their parents/guardians, and foreigners. It is ultimately the responsibility of the detention center to facilitate such arrangements. Accused persons also enjoy privacy with regards to written correspondence. Accused persons may write to their attorneys, and vice versa, without police/prison staff reading the contents of the letter, except in cases where the officer reasonably believes that the letter encloses illegal objects. In the latter case, the letter must be opened and checked by the officer in the presence of the accused person. This right extends to correspondences with relatives, friends, or other persons, although the police/prison staff may view the correspondence if they reasonably believe that the letter’s content may endanger public safety, is of a criminal nature, or may interfere with the investigation of the accused person. Accused persons may also correspond with the European Court of Justice of Human Rights, the Prosecutor of the Republic, the Administrative Commissioner, and with any international or national body with the power to adjudicate allegations of human rights violations.

Right to Information

Accused persons are granted the right to be informed, in a language understandable to him, as soon as possible after detention, of the rights described above (under s12 to 16 of Act N. 163(I)/2005). If the police officer making the arrest of such accused person does not speak the same language, then the officer is obliged to inform his officer-in-charge, who must make all arrangements necessary to inform the arrested person of his/her rights. In addition, Art. 4 and 6 of ECHR requires that accused persons understand their rights to legal assistance; legal aid; and the right to remain silent, and the arresting officer must deliver this is a manner understandable to the accused person.

Globe3.png English


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  99. Criminal Procedure Law Cap. 155, § 147(3).