On 5 June 2012, Doros Polycarpou, the Executive Director of Cypriot anti-racist NGO KISA, was acquitted of the charge of rioting during the 2010 Rainbow Festival in Larnaca. This decision is final and is not open for appeal. The judge found the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses to be not credible.
This ruling confirms the view of a wide coalition of international NGOs : the accusations were manifestly false and represented only the most recent in a series of attempts by the Cypriot authorities to silence KISA, an organisation that has being fighting xenophobia and racism in Cyprus for 14 years. We regret the charges were not withdrawn before such a lengthy trial took place.
We deplore that, despite repeated requests to the Attorney General and the Council of Ministers, no independent investigation was carried out about the events occurred in Larnaca in 2010, in particular with respect to the alleged failure of police to protect the Rainbow Festival’s participants. More than a year and a half later, no one has been charged with the crimes which resulted in serious injuries and hospitalisation of people that participated in the Festival. The evidence points to the fact that attackers were motivated by xenophobia and racism.
This case is emblematic of the vigilance needed to confront this growing phenomenon in Europe and to support those defending the rights of refugees and migrants. Cyprus is about to take over the EU Presidency in July. It announces it will address the issue of the integration of migrants and the Common European Asylum System as priorities. We recommend that the Cyprus government ensures a conducive environment in which NGOs and other human rights defenders can carry out their mission.
We urge the Cypriot authorities to use the occasion of Doros Polycarpou’s acquittal to mark the beginning of new cooperation between the Cyprus state and human rights defenders.
European Association for Human Rights/ Association Européenne des droits l’Homme (AEDH)
Euro-Mediterranean Network for Human Rights
European Network Against Racism
Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Programme
Front Line Defenders
Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants