NEWS

Civil marriage law costs Nicosia dear

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus has agreed to compensate a Turkish Cypriot who found that the island’s ethnic partition kept him from getting married at his local registry office. The government paid just over 8,000 Cyprus pounds ($12,130) in compensation and lawyers’ fees last month to avoid being branded an offender at the European Court of Human Rights. Kemal Selim was turned away from his registry office in the south of Cyprus when he sought to marry a non-Cypriot. «My client was not allowed to get married in Cyprus… he had to go to Romania,» said Nicosia lawyer Sotiris Drakos. «The European Court found there was a prima facie case that my client’s rights were violated and an out-of-court settlement was reached with the Republic.» While Greek Cypriots can marry in a registry office, the rights of Turkish Cypriots have fallen foul of a constitutional muddle born of the island’s 30-year division. Control over marriage and education was shared by Cyprus’s Greek and Turkish communities upon the island’s independence from Britain in 1960. But the Turks lost control over the issues in 1963 when they withdrew from the power-sharing administration. Cyprus’s 1990 civil marriages law applied only to the Greek community. About 1,000 Turkish Cypriots live in the Republic of Cyprus. Draft legislation according Turkish Cypriots the same rights as the Greek Cypriots is now pending in Parliament.