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Cyprus (Republic of)[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Cyprus signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child on October 5, 1990 and ratified it by Law No. 243 of 1990.[2] After ratification, the convention took precedence over domestic legislation.[3] Nevertheless, Cyprus has made many efforts along the years to apply the CRC in the legal system including amending the Constitution in order to abolish the patriarchal authority on family law issues. Cyprus has recently ratified the European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights that will take force in Cyprus in February 2006.[4] The Department of Social Welfare Services is the official agency of the State responsible for matters concerning children's welfare and responsible for implementation of the Convention and the administration of the laws detailed below.

 

In September of 1995 the Social Welfare Services established The Central Committee for the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which consisted of representatives of Governmental Departments and Non-Governmental Organizations concerned with the implementation of the Convention. The Central Committee was later officially established by a decision of the Council of Ministers no. 52.255 on August 30, 2000. The Central Committee is responsible for submitting proposals to update legislation and bring the laws into conformity with the provisions of the Convention; collecting and providing information on the exercise of children's rights; obtaining the views of children and raising their awareness concerning their rights; and more.[5]

 

The Relationship between Parents and Children Law No. 216 of 1990 defines the term “Parental care” to cover everything relating to the guardianship of the children and their representation in all cases or legal acts concerning them or their property.

 

The existing judicial system in Cyprus provides the child, where possible, with the opportunity to express his views and to be heard in matters that affect his welfare. The law recognizes that a child is an autonomous personality. The maturity of the child is not connected to age and is a matter for judicial consideration. If the court considers the child to be mature and refuses to hear him, its decision is subject to appeal. The court, taking into account the child's opinion, must examine whether he formed his opinion without the unilateral influence of his parent.

 

According to the state's report to the Commission on the Rights of the Child, the judges of the Family Court make effort in order to create the appropriate circumstances which help a child and allow him/her to express his/her opinions; for example, the communication between a judge and a child may be secured without the presence of the parents.[6]

 

The court may terminate parental care in cases of neglect, violation, or abuse of parental duties and responsibilities. If parental care is taken away from both parents, it may be assigned to a guardian. The parental care can be taken away by the court on the application of one of the parents or of the Director of the Department of Social Welfare Services. The Court can also appoint a guardian to whom the parental care is given.[7]

 

The Children Law Cap. 352 provides for the removal from home and protection of children who are either neglected, abandoned or cruelly treated, exposed to moral and physical danger or are out of the control of their parents or guardian. The Director of the Department of Social Welfare Services is empowered by the Children Law to take into his care those children who are in need of care and protection. In doing so, the Director has a duty to promote the best interests of the child. Where parents do not consent to their child being taken into care, a court order is obtained. In emergency situations, the Director can proceed and place a child under his care and even assume parental rights for the child (e.g. in cases of child abuse) without going through court proceedings.  This law also provides for the supervision of children in their home if problematic family circumstances fail to provide for an adequate family functioning, ensuring thus that children's basic needs are sufficiently met.

 

According to the state's report, the Department of Social Welfare Services involves children in decisions concerning them (through legislation and administrative procedures) and this involvement constitutes an integral part of the policy of the department.[8] In addition, the Council of Ministers decided on January 30, 2003 to set up a committee to prepare the framework for the establishment of a children's ombudsman in Cyprus.[9]


Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

 

The Constitution

 

Σύνταγμα [10]

 

ΑΡΘΡΟΝ 18



1. Έκαστος έχει το δικαίωμα ελευθερίας σκέψεως, συνειδήσεως και θρησκείας.

 

ΑΡΘΡΟΝ 19


1. Έκαστος έχει το δικαίωμα ελευθερίας του λόγου και της καθ' οιονδήποτε τρόπον εκφράσεως.

 

International Law

 

ΣΥΜΒΑΣΗ ΓΙΑ ΤΑ ∆ΙΚΑΙΩΜΑΤΑ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΙ∆ΙΟΥ [11]

 

Άρθρο 12

 

1. Τα Συµβαλλόµενα Κράτη εγγυώνται στο παιδί που έχει ικανότητα διάκρισης το δικαίωµα ελεύθερης έκφρασης της γνώµης του σχετικά µε οποιοδήποτε θέµα που το αφορά, λαµβάνοντας υπόψη τις απόψεις του παιδιού ανάλογα µε την ηλικία του και µε το βαθµό ωριµότητας του.

2. Για τον σκοπό αυτό θα πρέπει ιδίως να δίνεται στο παιδί η δυνατότητα να ακούγεται σε οποιαδήποτε διοικητική ή δικαστική διαδικασία που το αφορά, είτε άµεσα είτε µέσω ενός εκπροσώπου ή ενός αρµόδιου οργανισµού, κατά τρόπο συµβατό µε τους διαδικαστικούς κανόνες της εθνικής νοµοθεσίας.

Regional agreements

European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights [12]

 

Statutes

Οι περί Σχέσεων Γονέων και Τέκνων Νόμοι του 1990 έως 1998 [13]

5. Γονική μέριμνα

(1)(α) Η μέριμνα για το ανήλικο τέκνο ("γονική μέριμνα") είναι καθήκον και δικαίωμα των γονέων οι οποίοι το ασκούν από κοινού.

(β) Η γονική μέριμνα περιλαμβάνει τον προσδιορισμό του ονόματος, την επιμέλεια του προσώπου, τη διοίκηση της περιουσίας και την εκπροσώπηση του τέκνου σε κάθε υπόθεση ή δικαιοπραξία που αφορούν το πρόσωπο ή την περιουσία του.

(2) Σε περίπτωση όπου η γονική μέριμνα παύει λόγω θανάτου, κήρυξης σε αφάνεια, ή απουσίας του ενός γονέως, η γονική μέριμνα ασκείται αποκλειστικά από τον άλλο

(3) Αν ο ένας από τους γονείς αδυνατεί να ασκήσει τη γονική μέριμνα για πραγματικούς λόγους ή γιατί είναι ανίκανος η περιορισμένα ικανός για δικαιοπραξία, την ασκεί μόνος ο άλλος γονέας. Η επιμέλεια όμως του προσώπου του τέκνου ασκείται και από τον ανήλικο γονέα.

(4) Σε περίπτωση θανάτου και των δύο γονέων ή σε περίπτωση θανάτου του ενός γονέα και αν ο άλλος γονέας αδυνατεί να ασκήσει τη γονική μέριμνα για πραγματικούς λόγους ή γιατί είναι ανίκανος ή περιορισμένα ικανός για δικαιοπραξία, τη γονική μέριμνα ασκούν οι πλησιέστεροι ανιόντες από κοινού και οι διατάξεις του παρόντος Νόμου που αφορούν την άσκηση γονικής μέριμνας από τους δύο γονείς εφαρμόζονται καθ όλα σαν να επρόκειτο περί των γονέων Αν οι πλησιέστεροι ανιόντες δεν είναι σε θέση για οποιοδήποτε λόγο να ασκήσουν τη γονική μέριμνα, τότε εφαρμόζονται αναλόγως οι διατάξεις του άρθρου 18.

 

6. Άσκηση γονικής μέριμνας

 

(1) Κάθε απόφαση των γονέων σχετικά με την άσκηση της γονικής μέριμνας πρέπει να αποβλέπει στο συμφέρον του τέκνου.

(2){α) Στο συμφέρον του τέκνου πρέπει να αποβλέπει και η απόφαση του Δικαστηρίου όταν, κατά τις διατάξεις του νόμου, το Δικαστήριο αποφασίζει σχετικά με την ανάθεση της γονικής μέριμνας ή με τον τρόπο της άσκησης της.

(β) Η απόφαση του Δικαστηρίου πρέπει επίσης να σέβεται την ισότητα μεταξύ των γονέων και να μην κάνει διακρίσεις με βάση το φύλο, τη γλώσσα, τη θρησκεία, τις πεποιθήσεις, την ιθαγένεια, την εθνική ή κοινωνική προέλευση ή την περιουσία.

(3) Ανάλογα με την ωριμότητα του τέκνου και στο βαθμό που μπορεί να αντιληφθεί, πρέπει να ζητείται και να συνεκτιμάται η γνώμη του πριν από κάθε απόφαση σχετικά με τη γονική μέριμνα, εφόσον η απόφαση αφορά τα συμφέροντα του.

 

Chapter 352 – Children law, 18th august 1956[14]

 

Article 2. Interpretation

 

“Director” –

(a)    where the child concerned professes the Christian faith, means the Greek Chief Welfare Officer and includes his duly authorized agent; and

(b)   Where the child concerned professes the Moslem faith, means the Turkish Chief Welfare Officer and includes his duly authorized agent.

 

Part II. Children in need of care

Article 3. Power of the Director to provide for orphans, deserted children etc.

 

(1) Where it appears to the Director with respect to a child appearing to him to be under the age of sixteen –

(a)    that he has neither parent nor guardian or has been and remains abandoned by his parents or guardian or is lost; or

(b)   that his parents or guardians are, for the time being or permanently, prevented by reason of mental or bodily disease, or infirmity or other incapacity or any other circumstances from providing for his proper accommodation, maintenance or upbringing and there is no available person or persons capable, fit or willing to undertake the care of such child; and

(c)    in either case, that the intervention of the Social Welfare Department under this section is necessary in the interests of the welfare of such child,

It shall be lawful for the Director to receive the child into his care under this section.

(2) Where the Director has received a child into his care under this section it shall, subject to the provisions of this part, be his duty to keep the child in his care so long as the welfare of the child appears to him to require it and the child has not attained the age of eighteen.

 

Part III. Treatment of children in care of the Director

Article 12. General duty of the Director

 

(1) Where a child is in the care of the Director it shall be the duty of the Director to exercise any powers with respect to him so as to further his best interests and to afford him opportunity for the proper development of his character and abilities.

 

Translation

The Constitution

The Constitution[15]

 

Article 18

 

(1). “Every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”


Article 19

 

(1). “Every person has the right to freedom of speech and expression in any form.”


International Law

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child[16]

 

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Regional Agreements

European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights[17]

 

Article 4 – Right to apply for the appointment of a special representative

1. Subject to Article 9, the child shall have the right to apply, in person or through other persons or bodies, for a special representative in proceedings before a judicial authority affecting the child where internal law precludes the holders of parental responsibilities from representing the child as a result of a conflict of interest with the latter.

2. States are free to limit the right in paragraph 1 to children who are considered by internal law to have sufficient understanding.

 

Statutes

The Relationship between Parents and Children Law no. 216 of 1990 [18]

 

Article 5. Parental care

 

(1)(α) The caring for the underage child (“Parental care“) is an obligation and a right of the parents who exercise it together.

(β) Parental care includes the determination of the child's name, the custody of the person, the management of the property and the representation of the child in every case or legal action that concern the child or its property.

(2) In every case where the parental care is terminated due to a death, disappearance, or absence of a parent, the parental case is exercised exclusively by the other parent.

(3) If one of the parents is unable to exercise the parental care for pragmatic reasons or he/she is unable, or limited able to perform legal acts, the parental care is exercised by the other parent. The custody of the person though is exercised by the underage parent as well.

(4) In case of both parents' death or in case of one parent's death and the other parent being unable to exercise the parental care for pragmatic reasons or because he/she is unable or limited able for legal acts, the closest relatives exercise together the parental care and the legal provisions regarding the parental care exercised by the parents are applied in their entirety as with the parents. If the closest relatives are not able for any reason to exercise the parental care, then article 18 is applied analogously.  

 

Article 6. Exercise of parental rights

 

(1) Every decision of the parents regarding the exercise of parental care should serve the child's interest.

(2)(α) The decision of the Court should serve the child's interest as well, when, according to the law, the Court decides regarding the assignment of parental care or regarding the way the parental care should be exercised.

(β) The Court's decision should also respect the equality between the parents and it should not discriminate on the basis of gender, language, religion, beliefs, nationality, national or social origins, or property.

(3) The child in accordance with the level of its maturity and the extent to which it is capable of understanding must be asked to express its opinion which in turn is to be taken into consideration, along with other factors, before any final decision regarding parental care can be made, as long as the decision is relevant to his/her interests.

 

Chapter 352 – Children law, 18th august 1956

See Original Text section for English text

 

Local Contact information

 

Ms. Annita Koni, section head of the family and child services of the social welfare services.

Email: akoni@sws.mlsi.gov.cy

Web site: www.mlsi.gov.cy/sws

Social Welfare Services - Central Offices

Address: 63, Prodromou

1468 Lefkosia, Cyprus

Telephone: +357 22406709

Fax: +357 22667907

Email: central.sws@sws.mlsi.gov.cy

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

The Family Law no. 1329 of 1983 - In 1989 Cyprus amended article 111 of the Constitution in law no. 95 of that year and the Family law in order to transfer authority from the Orthodox Church to the family courts in regard to matrimonial issues.

 

The Violence in the Family (Prevention and Protection of Victims) Law 47 (I) 94 -

The law, enacted in 1994, does not aim solely at the protection of one spouse from another but also of children, parents and other persons in the same household. The Law empowers the court to order the removal of a child victim of violence from its home.

 

www.cyprus.gov.cy – The Cyprus Government

www.mlsi.gov.cy/sws - Ministry of labour and social insurance

 

Campbell Dennis (ed.), Introduction to Cyprus Law, Center for International Legal Studies, Cyprus 2000 - http://www.neocleous.biz/en/download/ebook/neobook.pdf.

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Official Gazette of the Republic, No. 2566, 28 December 1990.

[3] The Constitution, Article 169.

[4] The European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights. According to the declaration by Cyprus, a decision of the Council of Ministers (Dec. No 56.045) of Cyprus, the Convention will apply to three categories of family cases before a judicial authority, namely: (1) Custody, (2) Adoptions and (3) Protection from maltreatment and cruel behavior. Available at http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ListeDeclarations.asp?NT=160&CM=1&DF=18/11/2005&CL=ENG&VL=1.

[6] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Second Periodic Report, ¶45, U.N Doc. CRC/C/70/Add.16 available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf.

[7] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Report, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/8/Add.24, ¶3(d) available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf.

[8] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Second Periodic Report, supra note 6, ¶49 available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf.

[9] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.205, ¶3 available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf.

[11] The Convention on the Rights of the Child, available at http://www.unicef.org/magic/media/documents/CRC_greek_language_version.pdf.

[12] European Convention, supra note 3, original text unavailable.

[14] The Children's Law, Chapter 352 (1956) (original text in English), available at http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/sws/sws.nsf/All/86CD3D9C9F22BACEC2256E7E004D60F2/$file/Childrens%20Law

%201956.pdf?OpenElement, and also as .pdf Document.

[15] The Constiutition, official translation, available at http://www.cyprus.gov.cy/cyphome/govhome.nsf/Main?OpenFrameSet, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[16] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989), available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[17] European Convention, supra note 3, available at http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Word/160.doc.

[18] Unofficial translation by a translator provided by the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization.

 

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