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ECHR decisions have prompted positive changes in Cyprus – study  

The decriminalisation of homosexuality, improvements in court delays, and the right of Turkish Cypriots to vote in parliamentary elections have been used as positive examples in the case of Cyprus showing the effectiveness of change resulting from decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

The study ‘Impact of the European Convention on Human Rights in States Parties’ was undertaken by the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Department of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in collaboration with the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex.

It contains selected examples from all 47 states parties to the Convention that illustrate how the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms has been strengthened at the domestic level thanks to the Convention and the Strasbourg Court’s case law.

“The examples, in this information document, show that the effects of the Convention extend to all areas of human life, benefiting individuals, associations, political parties, companies, and persons belonging to particularly vulnerable groups such as minors, victims of violence, elderly persons, refugees and asylum seekers, defendants in judicial proceedings, persons with (mental) health problems, and those belonging to national, ethnic, religious, sexual or other minorities,” it said.

In the case of Cyprus it mentions first the decrimininalisation of homosexuality in Modinos v. Cyprus in 1993 where the ECHR found that the statutory prohibition of homosexual relationships between consenting male adults was contrary to Article 8 of the Convention – the right to respect for private life –  notwithstanding the attorney-general’s policy of not bringing criminal proceedings against homosexuals.

The right for members of the Turkish Cypriot community to vote in parliamentary elections was also cited. The case of Aziz v. Cyprus in 2004 originated in a complaint by a Turkish Cypriot, who had resided all his life in the part of Cyprus controlled by the government, about his ineligibility to vote in the parliamentary elections.

In another victory related to court delays a judgment in March 2003 found that the length of the domestic criminal, civil or administrative judicial proceedings in Cyprus was not in line with the ‘reasonable time’ requirement embodied in Article 6 (1) of the Convention (right to a fair trial within a reasonable time). As a result additional judges were recruited and the IT equipment of the courts was modernised, the report said.

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