1. The Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights (Ombudsman) is an independent Incumbent. The Ombudsman constitutes the most prevalent institution of extra judicial control of the administration and protection of human rights.

The Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights (Ombudsman) was established in 1991, by the enactment of the Commissioner for Administration Laws, following approval by the House of Parliament. Since these laws have undergone a number of amendments.

The main pivots of the mission of the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights are to ensure legality, to promote good governance, to combat maladministration and to protect citizens’ rights and human rights in general. The Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights operates as a guarantor of legality, keeps equal distances between the citizen and the administration and defines the limits of his/her competences and powers by adhering to the law and to the institutions of the state.

For the citizens in particular, the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights constitutes perhaps the most powerful means of safeguarding their rights and of supporting their claims, as the Commissioner’s activity is turned against any arbitrary act and abuse of power by organs of the state and the services exercising public administration.

2. In 2004, following the accession of Cyprus into the EU and as a result of the incorporation of Directives 2000/78/EC and 2000/43/EC into Cyprus law [Combating of Racism and Other Discrimination (Commissioner) Law, 2004 (L.42(I)/2004)] the mandate of the Ombudsman was expanded so as to include competences for combating discrimination and promoting equality under the directives.

In particular, the powers and capacities of the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights were further broadened by giving it the general guideline to act as an Equality Body and, specifically, to promote equal treatment between men and women and to combat discrimination in the enjoyment of rights and freedoms, as an Equality Body.

3. In 2009, the responsibilities of the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights were further reinforced by his choice as the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture (NPM). Specifically, with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Optional Protocol) (Ratification) Law of 2009, Cyprus ratified the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and the competences of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture (NPM) were added to the existing competences of the Commissioner.

4. In 2011, the Commissioner for Administration Laws were amended and the Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman) was renamed “Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights” and vested with broader functions in the area of protecting, promoting and guaranteeing human rights as National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) in line with the Paris Principles.

With the abovementioned amendment, the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights can examine ex officio and to prepare reports on opinions, suggestions and proposals on human rights issues, prepare ex officio reports with views, suggestions and suggestions if, when investigating a human rights violation complaint, it finds that there is such a need, to have, for these purposes ,contacts and consultations with non-governmental organizations, human rights organizations and other organized groups and to attend meetings and other events of international organizations or national human rights organizations and to work with them.

5. In 2012, following the ratification of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the Republic of Cyprus and a relevant Council of Ministers Decision, the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights was appointed Independent Mechanism for the Promotion, Protection and Monitoring of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in accordance with article 33 (2) of the UN Convention.

The Commissioner, as the Independent Mechanism for the Promotion, Protection and Monitoring of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, may examine matters relating to violations of the principle of equal treatment or human rights violations under the Convention, on its own initiative or upon receipt of individual or group complaints and, furthermore, conduct investigations of matters pertaining to the Convention, organize awareness-raising campaigns and promote the protection and entrenchment of the rights of Persons with Disabilities in general.

6. Within the framework of harmonization with Article 8 (6) of the Directive 2008/115/EC and on the basis of Article 18i (6) of the Aliens and Immigration Law, in 2012 the Council of Ministers, commissioned the Commissioner for Administration and Protection of Human Rights to establish and operate an effective system for monitoring the forced return procedures of third-country nationals staying illegally in the country.

The Commissioner, in the framework of its competence as a Mechanism for Monitoring Forced Return Procedures, monitors all stages of forced return procedures followed by competent immigration authorities and exercises effective control to ensure respect for the fundamental rights of persons who either have not lost or have lost their right to a lawful stay in the Republic, at all stages of their removal and readmission process in the country of origin or in the country from which they came.

On 20th April 2017, Ms Maria Stylianou-Lottides was appointed Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights (Ombudsman).

Head of institution

Maria Stylianou – Lottides, Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights

Website

www.ombudsman.gov.cy

Address

Era House, Diagorou 2, 1097 Nicosia

Year of establishment

1991

Accreditation status

B

Year of accreditation

2015

Number of staff

30

Mandate(s)

  • Ombuds
  • Equality Body
  • Monitoring body under CRPD Art 33(2)
  • National Preventive Mechanism under OPCAT Art. 3 (NPM)

Core functions

  • Monitoring
  • Publishing research, recommendations, opinions
  • Reporting to international and regional human rights mechanisms
  • Complaints handling
  • Advising government, parliament and other public bodies
  • Supporting the work of human rights defenders
  • Cooperation with civil society organisations
  • Human rights education and training
  • Awareness raising activities