Country Listing

Cyprus Table of Contents



Incidence of Crime

Somewhat paradoxically, in light of the violence of the nation's past, statistics of the Republic of Cyprus pointed to a crime rate that was lower (6.44 crimes per 1,000 inhabitants) than the rate for most West European countries. The low incidence of crime among Cypriot nationals was accounted for by the closeness of family ties, the emphasis on upholding the family's honor and reputation, and the social pressures for education and achievement. According to statistics submitted to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) for the year 1988, various forms of theft constituted by far the largest number of serious offenses (2,592). Only fourteen murders, eighteen sex offenses, and seventy-seven serious assaults were recorded. There were 528 cases of fraud and 48 drug offenses. Juveniles accounted for 13.6 percent of thefts and women for 6.7 percent. Corresponding data on crime in the Turkish Cypriot-administered north were not available.

The domestic use of illegal drugs was low compared with the situation elsewhere in the eastern Mediterranean and Europe, although the minister of the interior testified in Parliament in October 1989 that the problem was growing. Cyprus was not a source of narcotics but was an important brokering center for narcotics traffickers, especially those from Lebanon and Turkey. Traffickers met in Cyprus, forwarded shipments of heroin and cannabis through the island's container transshipment facilities, and used Cypriot air links to transship currency and bullion to and from Europe. Narcotics laws were rigidly enforced, and draft legislation to provide stricter penalties for possession and trafficking in illegal drugs was under discussion in early 1990. Cypriot police cooperated closely with law enforcement authorities in neighboring countries, resulting in significant seizures and arrests. There were, however, no direct working relations with Turkish Cypriot enforcement authorities or with Turkey. According to Turkish sources, northern Cyprus had also become a transit point for drugs, and there were indications of major drug-processing activities.

In 1989 a total of 134 arrests were recorded by the Republic of Cyprus for drug offenses; 72 were of Cypriot nationals and 62 of foreigners. The number of arrests had mounted steadily since 1986, when 26 Cypriots and 29 foreigners were arrested.

Data as of January 1991