UN expert condemns church access limits in Cyprus' north

A United Nations cultural rights expert has condemned an attempt by Turkish Cypriot authorities to limit access to churches in the breakaway north of ethnically split Cyprus.

Karima Bennoune said Thursday at the end of a weeklong fact finding trip to the ethnically divided island that she welcomes assurances that the newly-introduced curbs have been lifted.

But she said much remains unclear about how often services can be held at churches in the north and urged Turkish Cypriot authorities to clear up any "unhelpful" confusion.

Turkish Cypriot authorities said last week that church services in the north would be limited to once a year except for three "very important" churches.

Bennoune said she was told by Turkish Cypriot authorities that they believed some services were being held for "political purposes."