NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Amnesty International has strongly criticized Cyprus for what it says is the routine detention of migrants and asylum seekers for months in harsh conditions until their deportation.
Sherif Elsayed-Ali, the group's head of refugee and migrant rights, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the detentions "make no sense" other than to send the message that migrants aren't welcome in Cyprus.
Elsayed-Ali said that in two cases, detained mothers were forcibly separated from their children.
Cyprus' Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos rejected the criticism, which he said was one-sided and didn't take into account explanations from Cypriot authorities.
Hasikos said detentions of asylum seekers are rare, happening only when someone has been convicted of a crime.