The Central Prisons of Nicosia operates under a comprehensive legislative and regulatory framework enacted in 1996 and 1997. This legislation incorporates the European Prison Rules and is consistent with the standards contained in the relevant regulations of the Council of Europe.
The regulations are applied with impartiality and without any discrimination against any prisoner. The treatment of the prisoners is exercised in such a manner as to reduce the adverse effects of imprisonment. The prison staff helps the prisoners to resolve their personal problems.
Apart from protection, prison officials aim also to educate prisoners, to help them acquire a sense of responsibility and to encourage them to develop abilities that will help them return to society, as responsible, self-confident and self-sufficient persons.
The buildings and in general the prison grounds ensure hygienic living conditions for the prisoners and fulfill the necessary regulations regarding security and normal operation of the prisons.
The existing and the new buildings of the Prisons ensure sufficient light, air circulation and space for movement. In every wing there is a sufficient number of bathing and other facilities for personal hygiene.
The increase of the population in the prisons over the recent years has created problems of overcrowding. As a result, a comprehensive medium and long-term building program for the prisons was launched. There are new buildings for the Open Prison and the Centre for out-of-prison employment and rehabilitation of detainees. A special Wing has been created to host un-convicted persons. An extension of the Men’s Open Prison has increased the capacity.
The construction of Women´s Open Prison and Guidance Center for out-of-prison employment and Rehabilitation of women prisoners has been completed. Restoration and construction of new facilities needed for the detention of the minors and young adults has also been completed. Two Blocks of the closed Prison have been renovated. The renovation and extension works of another two Wings continue.
Inmates who are suffering from mental illness and whose state of mental health is incompatible with detention in a prison, as well as high risk suicidal inmates, will be detained in a separate Wing. For the restoration and construction of the infrastructure needed, works have already started and are expected to be completed soon.
Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Programs
Every prisoner has the right to participate in the various programs of work, physical exercise, vocational training, education, creative recreation, and other meaningful activities. With the exception of those prisoners sentenced for life, all prisoners who have served part of their sentences, have the opportunity to be placed at the Open Prison provided that they show excellent conduct, prove to be trustworthy and industrious, and that no security, disciplinary or other special reasons exist.
The last step towards reintegration into the social environment is the placement of inmates to the Open Prison, where security conditions are reduced and finally to the Guidance Centre for Out-of-Prison Employment and Rehabilitation of Prisoners, where prisoners spend their day out of prison provided that they are employed to work or to attend or continue an educational program.
All prisoners are given the opportunity to improve their level of vocational training and perform work of their choice wherever possible. In this direction, fully equipped workshops are operated in prison, where prisoners are encouraged, under the supervision and instructions of trainers, to improve the level of their vocational training by working as cooks, tailors, carpenters, electricians, bookbinders, barbers, gardeners, mechanics and also at the prison farm.
Within this framework the Prisons Department has a close cooperation with the Cyprus Productivity Centre and the Ministry of Education and Culture as well. All prisoners are given the right and opportunity to pursue courses of proper education and to use the library. The education of prisoners is integrated with the educational system of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
All prisoners are encouraged to take part in recreational activities including indoor and outdoor activities and events such as sports events, theatre, musical performances and electronic games. At the prisons’ theatre hall, performances and other recreational activities take place. The prisoners’ theatrical team stages plays and gives performances inside and outside the prisons. For the outdoor activities there are football, volleyball and basketball grounds. The prisoners’ football team plays against others teams at the prison grounds and outside as well.
The Ministry of Health has a 24-hour medical, psychiatric and nursing staff coverage system of the Central Prisons, with staff working in the urban health centers of Nicosia district. Initial medical screening of the prisoners upon admission is carried out in order to ascertain their mental and bodily health and to discover any physical or mental illness in order to take all necessary measures for treatment when needed.
The prison administration, through the Prison Training School, trains the prison staff in order to increase awareness and keep it informed and updated on issues relating to the enforcement of human rights, prisoners’ welfare and special needs. Prison staff attends seminars on issues related to the rules and regulations of prisons, prison management, use of firearms, investigations, escorting inmates, body search, first aid, illegal substances, psychology, skills of communication and other similar subjects. There are continuous training sessions with close the cooperation of the Cyprus Police Academy, the Cyprus Academy of Public Administration and other public and private services in order to train, develop and educate Prison Guards. The Prison Department also participates in European Programs for Staff Education and Training.
The Prison Board
Prisoners may raise with the Prison Board any issues, requests or complaints, which concern them and which cannot be resolved with the prison authorities in order to ensure an effective remedy.
The Prison Board has access to the institution and is empowered to meet with inmates in private. It can also evaluate the inmates’ vocational and work supervisors and can hold a hearing about an inmate who has been reprimanded. The board has the authority to overrule, in whole or in part, any punishment imposed by the prison director.
Conditional Release / Prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment
The Council of Release of Prisoners under Conditions is an independent body which was established in 2009 by the Council of Ministers under the Prisons’ Law. The Council has responsibility to assess life sentence prisoners and prisoners serving long terms of imprisonment (more than two years sentence) and specifically whether prisoners are safe to be released, under conditions, once they have completed the minimum time they must spend in prison. Until today the Council has released, under conditions, 30 prisoners, among whom six were life sentence prisoners.