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Time for Truth Commission on Missing is now

human rights reconciliation

The proposal to establish a Truth Commission in Cyprus aims to uncover the truth behind individuals missing from conflicts since 1960s, fostering reconciliation through immunity for information disclosure. With global support, including the presence of UN envoy Maria Angela Holguin, this pivotal decision could reshape the nation’s approach to addressing long-standing human rights violations.

What is the purpose of establishing a Truth Commission in Cyprus?

The purpose of establishing a Truth Commission in Cyprus is to address the unresolved issue of individuals missing from the intercommunal conflicts and the Turkish invasion in 1974. It aims to uncover truths, provide solace to families, and foster reconciliation within a divided society by granting immunity for information disclosure and potentially redefining the legal framework for missing persons cases.

A Call for Action

Cyprus stands on the precipice of a pivotal decision that could reshape its approach to a longstanding humanitarian issue. With the anticipated visit by the Council of Europe and the presence of UN secretary-general’s personal envoy Maria Angela Holguin, the nation is poised to consider the establishment of a Truth Commission on the Missing. This groundbreaking measure, as described by distinguished lawyer Achilleas Demetriades, represents an unprecedented opportunity to address the anguishing uncertainty surrounding the whereabouts of individuals who disappeared during the intercommunal conflicts of the 1960s and the subsequent Turkish invasion in 1974.

Advocacy and groundwork by organizations like the NGO TruthNow have propelled this issue to the forefront, offering concrete proposals designed to be palatable to both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. The commission seeks to meticulously peel back the layers of history, revealing truths that may finally bring solace to affected families and potentially mend a divided society.

Bridging the Divide with a Commitment to Truth

The establishment of a Truth Commission in Cyprus would not only meet ethical and social demands but also navigate the complex legal landscape of the island’s political context. President Nikos Christodoulides has broached the subject of such a commission but has yet to initiate the foundational steps necessary to actualize it. The commission would function as an upgraded entity to the existing Committee of Missing Persons (CMP), requiring a renegotiation of the UN General Assembly Resolution from 1981 which established the CMP, as well as revising its Terms of Reference.

A campaign of awareness, propelled by seminars and strategic outreach by TruthNow, has set the stage for a momentous decision come July. Should there be an unwavering commitment from the president, Cyprus could set a profound precedent, providing a blueprint for addressing similar cases of missing persons that currently linger in the European Court of Human Rights.

The Mechanism for Truth and Reconciliation

Central to the commission’s effectiveness is the provision of immunity for those who come forward to disclose information. This legal assurance, which has been a matter of de facto for over four decades, is proposed to transition to de jure status. Such a shift implies that any evidence or testimony offered to the commission would be inadmissible in subsequent legal proceedings, both within Cypriot jurisdiction and internationally. This measure is seen as critical to the discovery of what transpired, allowing for the truth to emerge and for families to finally learn the fate of their loved ones.

A key obstacle to the commission’s success is the stance of Turkey, which has not complied with the €90 million compensation ordered by the ECtHR in 2014. The proposal suggests that Turkey could contribute towards this sum, with a portion going to a fund for the Missing and the remainder to individuals who suffered during the division of Cyprus. This financial component, coupled with the search for truth, aims to satisfy both the need for justice and the possibility of reconciliation.

An International Endeavor for Justice

The effort to establish a Truth Commission in Cyprus is not isolated but rather part of a global dialogue on how to address human rights violations. With the international community’s support, including assistance from the UN, the Council of Europe, and the EU, Cyprus has access to a wealth of expertise to guide the formation of the Commission. The experience of Maria Angela Holguin, who was involved in Colombia’s Truth Commission, offers invaluable insights into a process that has borne fruit in other conflict-affected regions.

As Cyprus contemplates the establishment of a Truth Commission, it does so with the knowledge that this is not just a local issue but one that resonates worldwide. The pursuit of truth is a universal aspiration, and in Cyprus, it carries the potential to not only mend the past but also to pave the way for a more unified future.

What is the purpose of establishing a Truth Commission in Cyprus?

The purpose of establishing a Truth Commission in Cyprus is to address the unresolved issue of individuals missing from the intercommunal conflicts and the Turkish invasion in 1974. It aims to uncover truths, provide solace to families, and foster reconciliation within a divided society by granting immunity for information disclosure and potentially redefining the legal framework for missing persons cases.

How would the establishment of a Truth Commission in Cyprus impact the nation?

The establishment of a Truth Commission in Cyprus could have a profound impact on the nation by addressing long-standing human rights violations, providing closure to families of missing individuals, fostering reconciliation within a divided society, and potentially setting a precedent for addressing similar cases in the European Court of Human Rights.

What are some of the challenges and obstacles to establishing a Truth Commission in Cyprus?

Some of the challenges and obstacles to establishing a Truth Commission in Cyprus include the need to renegotiate the UN General Assembly Resolution from 1981 which established the existing Committee of Missing Persons, navigating the complex legal landscape of the island’s political context, ensuring cooperation from all relevant parties, such as Turkey, and securing financial contributions to support the commission’s work.

How does the international community support the establishment of a Truth Commission in Cyprus?

The international community, including organizations such as the UN, the Council of Europe, and the EU, provides support and expertise to Cyprus in its efforts to establish a Truth Commission. The experience of individuals like UN envoy Maria Angela Holguin, who was involved in Colombia’s Truth Commission, offers valuable insights and guidance for Cyprus in shaping the commission’s framework and operations.

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