No provisions. Criminal defamation was repealed in Cyprus in 2003 by Law 84(I)/2003.
The following offences may be noted, although not strictly related to defamation:
Public vilification: According to Art. 99 of the Cyprus Criminal Code, publicly insulting another person so as to provoke an assault is a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment for up to one month or a fine.
False news: Art. 50 of the Cyprus Criminal Code states that any person who publishes, in any form, false news, or information that may otherwise undermine public order or the public’s confidence in the state or organs or cause fear or concern to the public or interfere with any way the common peace and orderliness is guilty of a misdemeanour. The punishment is imprisonment for up to two years or a fine. However, the article states that if the court is satisfied that the publication was made in good faith or in circumstances justifying its publication, there will be no punishment.
Criminal Defamation of Public Officials
Criminal Defamation of the Head of State
Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols
Insult of the armed forces (Criminal Code Art. 50D): Publicly insulting the army (Army of the Republic, National Guard or any other military force established by law) is a criminal offence under Art. 50D of the Cyprus Criminal Code. The punishment is imprisonment for up to two years of a fine of up to (formerly) 1,500 Cypriot pounds (approx. €2,500) or both.
Criminal Defamation of Foreign Heads of State
Insult of foreign heads of state (Criminal Code Art. 68): Publishing anything intended to be read, or any sign or visible representation, that aims to humiliate, insult or expose to hatred or contempt a foreign head of state, ambassador or other foreign dignitary with the goal of compromising the peace and friendship between Cyprus and the foreign country in question is a misdemeanour.
Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols
Criminal Defamation of the Deceased
Libelling the memory of a deceased person is a criminal offence under Art. 202A of the Cyprus Criminal Code. The punishment is imprisonment for up to one year. Criminal prosecution is only possible when the relatives of the deceased file a complaint.
Deliberately offending a person’s religious sentiments is a criminal offence under Art. 141 of the Cyprus Criminal Code. The penalty is imprisonment for up to one year.
Additionally, publishing books, pamphlets, letters or articles in magazines and newspapers with the intent of humiliating a religion or insult those who follow it is a misdemeanour under Art. 142.
Criminal Defamation and Media
With regards to Criminal Code Art. 68 on foreign heads of state, there is no case law history, according to legal experts consulted by the authors of this study. A database search of decisions by both trial and appeals courts, including the Supreme Court, yielded no such cases.
Recent Legal Changes
In 2003, defamation (libel, insult, etc.) was removed from the Cyprus Criminal Code by Law 84(I)/2003. In Cyprus, defamation is now exclusively handled by civil law.
Notes and Acknowledgements
Information for Cyprus was originally collected by IPI as part of the “Out of Balance” report, published in January 2015 with support from the European Commission and incorporating research contributed by Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University in Budapest and by the SHARE Foundation in Belgrade. This entry was later expanded and updated by IPI as part of a study commissioned by the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
A fully footnoted version of this entry is available in the OSCE study. This entry was last updated in March 2017.
The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at info(at)ipi.media.