The Advisory Committee for the Prevention & Combating of Violence in the Family on Thursday blasted police for delays in investigating the reported disappearance of three women and a child.
Police have found the bodies of two women and are looking for the six year old daughter of the first victim. A 35 year old Greek Cypriot army officer is in custody for the premeditated murder of two women whose bodies were found in an abandoned mine shaft in Mitsero and of a third woman whose body has not been recovered.
All three women were reported missing and police have come under fire for not investigating their disappearance diligently. Akel went further, saying both the Justice Minister and the chief of police were guilty of criminal negligence and should resign.
Police have launched an administrative inquiry into how the cases were handled and police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou has said if there had been dereliction of duty, those responsible would be held to account.
But for the Advisory Committee for the Prevention & Combating of Violence in the Family — which is affiliated to the Justice Ministry — this was too little, too late.
It criticised police’s delay in investigating the cases. “The proper evaluation of information at the time may have averted the continuation of such incidents and prevented the creation of the unprecedented criminal phenomenon of a ‘serial killer of women’ in Cyprus,” it said.
Figures show that women often report to police that they have been victims of violence or threats from their partners, husbands or former partners, the committee said noting that over the period 1990 to 2019 there are 39 women reported missing who have not been found, including four underage girls.
“And even though the legal framework is there as is the protocol to investigate these cases, one wonders why these women are just a list,” it added.
The committee spoke of serious cases of supervision and dereliction of duty by police. Serious questions are raised as to how a report is handled by a local police station and using what criteria. Is it up to the duty officer to decide, the committee queried.
Carrying out intensive searches and apportioning responsibility after bodies of women have been found does not contribute to combating and preventing such extreme and horrendous acts of violence, it noted.
Under the law and the Istanbul convention ratified by Cyprus, police have the legal obligation to provide the required protection and safety to women victims of violence and their children.
The committee urged the Justice Minister and the chief of police to revise the way such incidents are evaluated and handled by police, particularly cases of violence against women and children and to order an immediate investigation into how police handled these cases.