Improvement of the Situation of Asylum Seekers in Cyprus
Overall Goal & Objectives
The project implemented by the Humanitarian Affairs Unit takes a holistic approach by working both at the individual and the societal levels. By offering legal services, we will respond to the needs of the target population, who are one of the most marginalised groups in the country and by launching public advocacy and awareness-raising activities we will affect xenophobic public attitudes, discriminatory state policies and practices in an effort to make Cyprus a more inclusive and accepting host society.
1. Wider population receiving legal representation and consultation
2. Increase individual/group interventions facilitating target group’s access their fundamental rights
3. Respond to discriminatory and negative state policies/legislation, and promote inclusive ones
4. Respond to racist/xenophobic attitudes in the media/social media, and to general racist attitudes
What we do
The target population will be offered free professional and accurate legal guidance, advice, and representation so as to access their fundamental rights as defined by the national, EU and International Law.
Cases will be selected and the legal team will respond with strategic litigation to incidents and policies of discrimination, with the aim to create precedent against xenophobic/racist and discriminatory practices.
Public Information/ Advocacy
The Public Information (PI) Officers will;
- act as mediators and watchdogs to the daily manifestations of discrimination encountered by people through interactions with the public institutions (i.e. Social Welfare Office, Labour Office, Immigration Detention Centres) and the Cypriot public.
- act as whistleblowers by monitoring and responding proactively to xenophobic and discriminatory attitudes in the media, particularly in the social media where racist propaganda is growing strong, and in public policies and legislation. Proactive actions will include traditional/social media exposure of xenophobic and racist attitudes.
- work with the rest of the team to gather insights into the socio-politics of fear for the “other” as a means to counteract the regurgitation of such propaganda, and to develop strategies targeting both the root causes and the results of it. As part of this, the PI Officer will work closely with the “CyberEthics” project (http://www.cyberethics.info/cyethics1/), an EU funded project that is implemented by the New Media Lab unit of FWC. CyberEthics enables the public to report any illegal/disturbing content they come across on the Internet, which should then be investigated and communicated to the appropriate governmental bodies. The proposed project will use the structure already in place in order to increase awareness on racist cyber-crime, and to encourage the use of the existing Hotline/Helpline, as a means through which people can report such attitudes.
- take the initiative to create an NGO network, which will include common publication and dissemination of press releases and media/social media responses to incidents of discrimination, racist crime, xenophobia, as witness by the organisations on a regular basis.
- organise a seminar aiming to offer training to journalist and state personnel dealing directly with the target population, using the already published yet unutilised codes of ethics/conduct published by the Ombudsman Office, and the Cyprus Journalist Association, namely the Code of Conduct for Public Servants and the Journalist Code of Practice. In organising this seminar, it shall utilise our good working relationship with the Cyprus Ombudsman Office, the Equality Body, the Authority against Discrimination, and the Representation of UNHCR in Cyprus calling for collaboration in the organisation of this activity. An expert from the EU will be invited to facilitate workshop during the 2-day seminar; one day seminar to be carried out for journalist, one day seminar to be carried out for state personnel having direct contact with the target group.
- Corina Drousiotou, Head of Humanitarian Affairs Unit, on CyBC (06/10/14)
- "When we talk about refugees, we are talking about people", Annagrace Messa, Cyprus Mail (21/09/2014)