A number of Greek Cypriot applicants with property in Famagusta and Kyrenia, in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, call on the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to look into their cases, due to the ineffectiveness of the immovable property commission (IPC) and the fact that the IPC has no jurisdiction in properties located within “military areas”.
Human rights lawyer Achilleas Demetriades sent a number of letters to Strasbourg, ahead of the June 5-7 meeting of the Committee of Ministers, which is expected to examine the personal measures of property owners in Turkish-occupied Cyprus. Acting on behalf of the applicants, he notes that damages awarded for the loss of use of their property following the 1974 Turkish invasion have not been paid by Turkey. Applicants also ask for the restitution of their property rights.
Speaking to CNA, Demetriades said that the main argumentation follows the ECHR ruling in the recent “Joannou versus Turkey” case, over the ineffectiveness of the IPC.
Applicants with property in “military zones” in Kyrenia include Diogenous-Tseriotis, Demades and the owners of Rock Ruby Hotel. Moreover, Hadjiprocopiou and Xenides-Arestis have property within the fenced-off area of Famagusta.
In the letters, it is noted that owners don’t wish to apply to the IPC “as it is ineffective”. With regard to damages awarded by the Court, applicants say they “rely on the Committee of Ministers to bring about the payment of the Just Satisfaction awarded”.
Finally, applicants note their expectation that Turkey will allow them to obtain possession and use of their properties, as part of their individual measures.
The lawyer also says in his letters that the IPC is not competent to deal with restitution of properties in military areas “and thus applying to it would simply be ineffective.“
Speaking to CNA, Demetriades underlined the fact that the immovable property commission was found to be ineffective. “The proof for that is the Joannou case ruling, which established that there has been a violation”. “The Turks admitted this and did not appeal” he said.
Moreover, he added that there was no point in applying to the IPC, since it has no jurisdiction over “military areas” such as the fenced-off part of Famagusta or the “military zone” in Kyrenia.
Demetriades also sent a separate letter concerning the “Andrianni Joannou versus Turkey” case, informing the Committee of Ministers that Turkey has not paid any damages yet, despite the fact that the deadline expires on June 12. He says moreover that Turkey unveiled no action plan to remedy the violations found by the Court.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
The Court held in December 2017 that IPC proceedings had been “protracted and ineffective” in the case of Andriani Joannou and ruled that Turkey should pay the applicant €7,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and €6,325 in respect of costs and expenses, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final.
This was the first time since the Demopoulos decision in 2010 – which held the IPC to be an effective remedy in principle – that the ECHR condemns Turkey for the committee`s ineffectiveness.