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Media Watch 2005

07 April 2005
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: George Psyllides
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 9 April 2005.
Rights court delivers new blow to Turkey
"THE European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that a ‘compensation commission’ set up by the Turkish Cypriot regime cannot be an effective domestic remedy in addressing Greek Cypriot refugee claims, opening the doors to a flood of court cases against Turkey... lawyer Achilleas Demetriades said “It is of great importance because the way is still open for applications against Turkey.” In its decision, the Third Section of the ECHR observed, among other things: “The composition of the commission raises concerns, since, in the light of the evidence submitted by the Cypriot government, the majority of its members are living in houses owned or built on property owned by Greek Cypriots.”... Turkey was last year forced to pay $1.1 million to Loizidou, as compensation for the loss of use of her property in Kyrenia. Until then, it had been refusing to comply with the judgement of the ECHR for five years. It is still refusing to implement a second court decision regarding Loizidou: the freedom to enjoy her property... The latest ECHR decision is set to affect hundreds of cases pending before the court... He said the creation of the commission was clearly a political act and not a domestic legal remedy in line with the articles of the European Human Rights Convention."

THE European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that a ‘compensation commission’ set up by the Turkish Cypriot regime cannot be an effective domestic remedy in addressing Greek Cypriot refugee claims, opening the doors to a flood of court cases against Turkey.

The case, which was considered critical, as it affects scores of similar cases before the ECHR, examined the status of the commission, which Turkey claimed was an efficient domestic remedy in relation to an application filed by Myra Xenides-Arestis concerning her property in Varoshia.

Turkey’s lawyers further suggested that since the partial lifting of restrictions on the freedom of movement in April 2003, Greek Cypriots had free access to properties.
They argued that the ECHR should therefore reject the case.

But the Court upheld Arestis’ case and unanimously decided to make her application admissible.

“The essence of the case is that the compensation commission set up in the subordinate local administration is not considered an effective remedy, which Greek Cypriots applying to the ECHR or who plan to apply are obliged to exhaust,” the applicant’s lawyer Achilleas Demetriades said yesterday.

He added: “It is of great importance because the way is still open for applications against Turkey.”

In its decision, the Third Section of the ECHR observed, among other things: “The composition of the commission raises concerns, since, in the light of the evidence submitted by the Cypriot government, the majority of its members are living in houses owned or built on property owned by Greek Cypriots.”

This remained undisputed by Turkey.

The Court said the remedy proposed by Turkey could not fully redress the negation of the applicant’s property rights and could not be regarded as an effective or adequate means of redressing the applicant’s complaints.

“That being so it considers that the respondent government’s (Turkey) plea of inadmissibility on the ground of non-exhaustion of domestic remedies must be dismissed,” the court said.

Demetriades stressed that the decision effectively confirmed previous ECHR decisions, like the landmark Titina Loizidou case.

Turkey was last year forced to pay $1.1 million to Loizidou, as compensation for the loss of use of her property in Kyrenia. Until then, it had been refusing to comply with the judgement of the ECHR for five years. It is still refusing to implement a second court decision regarding Loizidou: the freedom to enjoy her property.

The latest ECHR decision is set to affect hundreds of cases pending before the court.
Demetriades said the court has so far declared 33 cases involving Greek Cypriots admissible.

Arestis said she was satisfied by the decision and hoped that after 30 years her rights on her house in Famgusta as well as other property would be restored.

“It is hard to be deprived of your family home for such a long time,” she said.

The government said yesterday the decision had been expected.

“It was clear that it would have arrived at this decision,” Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said.

He said the creation of the commission was clearly a political act and not a domestic legal remedy in line with the articles of the European Human Rights Convention.

Chrysostomides said there were no applications before the ‘commission’."