A European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgment, which describes the proceedings at the immovable property commission (IPC), operating in Cyprus’ northern Turkish occupied areas, “protracted and ineffective” has become final.
Turkey had not filed an appeal against the Court ruling, in the case of Greek Cypriot Andriani Joannou, within the set deadline, a development which renders the Court decision final. This, according to legal experts, is tantamount to Ankara admitting the ineffectiveness of the IPC.
Three months after the initial judgment, on December 12, 2017, the deadline passed without either party lodging an appeal. The Cyprus News Agency contacted the ECHR, which confirmed that “the judgment in question has become final under Article 44§2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Joannou’s lawyer, Achilleas Demetriades, said that with the case being final now “Turkey admits that in this particular case the Court has made the right decision.” Therefore, Ankara “admits that the committee is ineffective, for reasons stated in the judgment,” he pointed out.
Demetriades now expects Turkey to pay damages and also prepare an action plan, detailing the individual measures that need to be taken.
Joannou sought compensation for property located in the village of Koma Tou Yialou, in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. The property, five plots of land, was a gift she received from her aunt. Joannou filed a claim with the immovable property commission in May 2008, for compensation amounting to €2,285,000 approximately.
After much delay, she applied to the ECHR in October 2014. The Court held in December 2017 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 is 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.
According to Demetriades “the Joannou case is hugely important because the next step after paying damages will involve Turkey presenting the action plan to address individual measures” in relation to violations infringing upon the applicant’s right to property.
Demetriades also said that more than 25 cases are pending before the Court in Strasbourg, many of them referring in particular to military zones, including the fenced-off area of the occupied town of Famagusta, for which the IPC has no jurisdiction.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Turkey had set up the IPC to handle property claims by Greek Cypriots in connection with their property in the areas of Cyprus where Ankara exercises effective control, by virtue of its strong military presence there. It is estimated that around 40,000 Turkish troops are stationed there.