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According to the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, the Attorney General is the legal adviser of the Republic, of the President of the Republic, of the Council of Ministers and of the Ministers (Article 113.1 of the Constitution) and is the Head of the Law Office of the Republic (Article 112.2). As the legal adviser of the Republic, the Attorney General represents Cyprus in every international court proceeding and acts as the Agent of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus before the European Court of Human Rights (“ECtHR”) when individual applications are lodged against Cyprus.
The Human Rights Sector of the Law Office of the Republic was set up in 2004 and began its operation on the same year. It consists of Counsels of the Republic familiar with Strasbourg case law and ECtHR proceedings, and also with case law related to human rights in the context of international treaties and conventions.
The Sector’s main areas of work and its role in the protection and promotion of human rights is as follows –
1. The Sector handles in every stage all the individual applications lodged against Cyprus which are transmitted by the ECtHR to the Attorney General who is the Agent of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus in ECtHR proceedings. This includes drafting the Republic’s written observations on the admissibility and merits, the Republic’s written comments on the applicant’s written observations on the admissibility and merits, comments on the applicant’s claims for just satisfaction, exchange of correspondence with the ECtHR, issues related to friendly settlements and unilateral declarations and generally, the Sector handles every issue that may arise vis-à-vis an individual application.
2. The Sector also handles the execution process in cases where the ECtHR finds that there has been a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights by the Republic of Cyprus. Consequently, the Human Rights Sector contributes to the promotion of human rights and prevention of violations of the European Convention of Human Rights by Cyprus in the future.
3. The execution process is controlled and coordinated by the Sector. The control is performed within the context of the Attorney General’s functions and powers as the Republic’s legal adviser. Counsels of the Human Rights Sector advise extensively the competent departments and ministries as to the measures that need to be adopted for the purposes of complying with the ECtHR’s judgments. The measures may inter alia include the adoption of new legislation, amendment of an existing legislation or change of administrative practice. The measures that have been adopted following legal advice by counsels of the Sector, or those that are pending, are documented in Action Plans and Action Reports drafted by counsels of the Sector. These plans are submitted to the Committee of Ministers and are published at the ECtHR’s website (HUDOC-EXEC).
4. The legal advice given to the competent ministry or department is done either together with the dissemination of the judgment, which is accompanied by a letter setting out an analysis of the judgment and explaining the reasoning for the ECtHR’s finding of a violation, or subsequently. The judgments are also disseminated to the Supreme Court, the President of the Cyprus Bar Association and the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights and the Parliamentary Committee for Legal Affairs. The communication letters give an account of the facts and explain the basic reasoning of the judgment.
5. The Sector follows closely the proceedings at the Committee of Ministers concerning the implementation of ECtHR judgments against Cyprus and the supervision of the execution by the said Committee. The same applies with the implementation of Friendly Settlements decisions.
6. The Attorney-General’s function of legal adviser of the Republic and at the same time Government Agent, and his office’s mode of operation in the Government machinery, enable the Human Rights Sector to operate effectively respecting the implementation of the European Convention of Human Rights and the ECtHR’s case-law at national level.
7. In the context of implementation of the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation on the publication and dissemination of the Convention and the Court’s case-law, the Law Office has made arrangements with the Pancyprian Bar Association, which since 2004 has been publishing analyses of the ECtHR’s judgments prepared by counsels of the Sector at the Cyprus Law Journal.
The head of the Human Rights Sector is Ms. Elena Zachariadou, Attorney of the Republic.
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