The Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights (Ombudsman) was established in 1991 by virtue of Law no. 3(I)/1991 (the Law on the Commissioner for Administration), as an independent Incumbent, responsible to deal with individual complaints concerning maladministration, misbehaviour and human rights violations by state authorities or officers.
The basic law has since been amended six times: in 1994 (Law no. 98(I)/1994), 1995 (Law no. 101(I)/1995), 2000 (Law no. 1(I)/2000), 2004 (Law no. 36(I)/2004), 2011 (Law no. 158(I)/2011) and 2014 (Law no. 45(I)/2014). Each amendment either enhanced the Institution’s powers and expanded its mandate.
Following the accession of Cyprus into the EU in 2004 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 Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights by the abovementioned Law was assigned to act as an Equality Body among others, promoting equal treatment between men and women and to combating discrimination in all fields, such as sex, race, language, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability etc.
Commissioner’ mandate to act as an Equality Body, is also defined by:
According to the above Laws, any person who is a victim of discrimination (based on the provisions of the respective Law) may appeal to the Commissioner, who examines the issue under his/her mandate as an Equality Body, as determined with the Combating of Racism and Other Discrimination (Commissioner) Law of 2004 (L.42(I)/2004).
With the amendment of 2011 (Law no. 158(I)/2011), 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 is, amongst others, specifically mandated to act accordingly, for the promotion and protection of human rights, their preservation or expansion in the Republic of Cyprus and the observance of these rights and fundamental freedoms by the administration.
In particular, Commissioner has responsibility through the exercise of its own power to submit opinions, recommendations, proposals and reports which relate to the following areas:
The Commissioner, when exercising his/her competences under the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Directives, ensures the enjoyment of all rights and freedoms without any racial or other discrimination, both in the public and the private sector.
Furthermore, the responsibilities of the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights were further reinforced by his/her appointment by Law 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 [Law no. 2(ΙΙΙ)/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.
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 as 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 complains relating to violations of the principle of equal treatment or human rights violations under the Convention and also proceed with own initiative or upon receipt of individual or group complaints and, furthermore, can 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.
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, appointed 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.
The Commissioner, in the framework of his/her competence as a Forced Returns Monitoring Mechanism, 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.
Finally, due a tragic incident occurred in Cyprus in 2019, dealing with the exploitation of foreign women, the Council of Ministers assigned the Commissioner the competences to examine the employee’s employment terms carried out by the Labour Disputes Department, Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, in cases of serious suspicion of the individual human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Defending own legally binding decision before the courts, Amicus curiae brief or similar
|Employment||Gender, Sexual Orientation, Race and Ethnic Origin, Religion or Belief, Age, Disability, Other Grounds|
|Education||Sexual Orientation, Race and Ethnic Origin, Religion or Belief, Age, Disability, Other Grounds|
|Housing||Sexual Orientation, Race and Ethnic Origin, Religion or Belief, Age, Disability, Other Grounds|
|Goods and Services||Gender, Sexual Orientation, Race and Ethnic Origin, Religion or Belief, Age, Disability, Other Grounds|
|Social Protection & Healthcare||Sexual Orientation, Race and Ethnic Origin, Religion or Belief, Age, Disability, Other Grounds|
Multi-mandate equality body
|Number of cases handled|
|Number of inquiries|
|Number of litigation cases|
Single headed equality body (led by director or ombudsman/commissioner)
All the abovementioned mandates have been assigned personally to the Commissioner, however, for each assigned mandate, a head has been appointed and has under his responsibility a number of Officers.
Therefore, in our Institute there is an internal structure, based on the mandates assigned to the Commissioner, including her mandate to act as an Equality Body. Specifically,for Commisisoner’s mandate to act as Equality Body, a Head Officer was appointed by the Commisisoner in charge, under whose responsibility are twelve Officers who are dealing with issues related to Equality Body.
In all matters and cases, the Commissioner has the final word, who, among other things, has been assigned with the mandate to act as Equality Body.
According to the legislation (article 3), the Commissioner is appointed by the President, based on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers and with the prior consent of the majority of the House of Representatives, a citizen of the Republic (…), with a high level of education and experience and with the highest integrity, as Commissioner.
Given that Cyprus Republic is a Presidential Republic and not Parliamentary Republic, still the appointment of the Ombudsman-Commissioner depends on prior consent and approval by the majority of the House of Representatives. Because of the fact that the government has not the majority in the Parliament, the approval of the candidate by the Parliament needs the synergies of the political parties. In this way, even though the Commissioner is appointed by the President, based on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, the final decision is upon the House of Representatives prior consent and approval.
During this period of time, from the proposal of the Council of Ministers until the final decision of the Parliament, NGO’s and other civil society representatives bring their views before the Parliament members, related to the candidate who has been selected by the Council of Ministries or for any other person whom may thing could be more eligible for the position. The discussions between Parliament members and NGOs/civil society usually lasts for several days as well as the brainstorming and other names of candidates promoted via mass media. Their point of view is taken seriously into consideration by the Parliament before their final decision to approve or to reject the Council of Ministers proposal.
This procedure, ensures the full independence of the Commissioner, since the Commissioner is the only Incumbent in Cyprus whose selection must be approved prior by the majority of the Parliament and not directly appointed by the President. The governmental party does not have the majority of the parliament and thus the appropriate synergies from all the political parties are needed for the candidate to earn the prior approval of the representatives before his/her appointment.
Given that Cyprus Republic and the Constitution provide a very strict separation of Powers, the necessary prior approval of the appointment of the Ombudsman by the Parliament is the only exception which allows the House of Representatives to have a decisive role on the competence of Executive Power.
It is worth be noted that when the term of the Commissioner ends and the position becomes vacant, it is made publicly known. Therefore, every person who is interested in, may express his/her interest for the position either addressed directly to the Council of Ministers or use another way like expressing his /her interest via mass media. In this way, a number of interested persons are brought before the Council of Ministers, from whom which a merit based selection candidate proposed at last to the President of the Republic. The latter has not the right to appoint the candidate before the prior approval of the Representatives in a discussion which it takes place in couple of weeks after the Council of Ministers suggestion.
This institution does not have regional officies.
National Parliament, Head of State, Other
|Number of staff members working on equality||10||10||10||10||10||10||12|
|Operating budget in euros [ACTUAL]|
|Operating budget in euros [ALLOCATED]||2111150||1823360||1896140||1958260||1988240||2409280|
|Operating budget in euros for the parts of the organisation dealing with equality issues (all types of functions) [ACTUAL]||379246|
|Operating budget in euros for the parts of the organisation dealing with equality issues (all types of functions) [ALLOCATED]||379246|