Association in Cyprus

Free association is well respected in practice in Cyprus, although the right is better respected within the Greek Cypriot community. In 2011, only 3.5% of Greek Cypriot CSOs surveyed said they had faced any illegitimate restriction or attack by local or central government; at the same time one in four CSO representatives from the Turkish Cypriot community felt that laws and regulations governing civil society were ‘highly restrictive’. Article 21 of the constitution protects the right to freedom of association, stating that any restriction of the right must be ‘absolutely necessary’ to protect public security, safety, health, order or morals. The law governing the formation of societies declares illegal any organisation that ‘tends to undermine’ any of those protections or the security of the state. Civil society organisations can only be dissolved in Cyprus by the courts following due legal process. A revised societies bill proposed in 2014 seeks to augment the powers of the registrar to refuse registration of an association, accompanying such refusal to register with the ‘necessary justification’. The laws of Cyprus make no provision for unregistered or informal civil society organisations.