NICOSIA, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades issued an apology to foreign diplomats over the murders of women committed by a serial killer and promised that new rules will be introduced to improve the working conditions and lives of foreigners working in the island, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Friday.
He said that the promise was given at a meeting of the President with diplomats and consuls representing India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Philippines and Nepal.
Indian High Commissioner R. K. Raghavan said that the President promised them that the government will take into account suggestions they made in a document they handed to him.
Asked to refer to details in the document, the Indian High Commissioner said that diplomats in Cyprus should know how many of their nationals work in Cyprus, especially those working in domestic settings.
"There is a gap here that we pointed out to the president and the president was positive that this gap should be fixed and the foreign workers here have another avenue to go," he said.
The government said in a document published on Thursday that 3,700 women who arrived in Cyprus are unaccounted for, in the sense that authorities do not know their residence and whereabouts.
An agent facilitating the arrival of domestic assistants said that after working for some time for their employer, hundreds of them opt to break their contract of employment and stay on their own working free-lance, because they earn many times the salary they get when working for a single household.
That way they are also able to live in the island, albeit illegally, more than the three years which is the maximum they are allowed to stay and work.
Prodromou said that as part of new procedures, consular authorities will be thoroughly informed in the future about workers with a legal work permit in Cyprus, so they in turn can communicate more effectively with the state authorities.
He further said that at the next cabinet meeting decisions will be made which include giving the right to the Commissioner for Human Rights to handle cases concerning the living conditions and human rights of workers from third countries.
Many women on a list of 32 people reported missing over the last 30 years come from the countries represented at the meeting.
The serial killer, an army captain, told the police that he killed two women from the Philippines and the six-year old daughter of one of them, a woman from Romania and her eight-year old daughter and a woman from Nepal.
"It was significant that the diplomats acknowledged that this is an isolated event which does not correspond to the "very good conditions workers face in Cyprus," Prodromou said.