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Greek Cypriots report IPC ineffectiveness to Council of Europe

The offices of the Immovable Property Commission in the north

Greek Cypriot owners of land in Famagusta and Kyrenia have written to the Council of Europe to report the ineffectiveness of the immovable property commission (IPC) in the north, including the fact it has no jurisdiction in military zones, it was reported on Wednesday.

According to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), in letters sent by human rights lawyer Achilleas Demetriades ahead of the meeting of the council’s committee of ministers in June, Greek Cypriot applicants are demanding payment of the compensation awarded by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for loss of use, but also return of their properties.

Demetriades said the main argument for the move was a recent ECHR decision that deemed the IPC ineffective and the fact that there are areas under the control of the Turkish army.

The letter concerns applicants simply known as Diogenous, Tseriotis, and Demades, and the owners of the Rock Ruby Hotel, whose properties are in areas in Kyrenia designated as under the Turkish military.

Greek Cypriots Hadjiprokopiou and Xenides-Arestis are also seeking recourse for their properties in the enclosed Varosha area.

In December last year, the ECHR ruled that proceedings at the IPC were “protracted and ineffective”.

The court delivered its ruling in a case brought by a Greek Cypriot who had filed a claim with the IPC in May 2008 for compensation amounting to around €2,285,000.

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 judgement 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 had condemned Turkey for the committee’s ineffectiveness.

In the letters to the Council of Europe the applicants say they do not want to apply to the IPC because it is ineffective. They also inform the council that Ankara has not yet paid the compensation awarded by the ECHR in their cases and voice expectation that they will be granted access to and use of their land.

The letters stress that the IPC cannot handle property return matters because it has no jurisdiction in military areas.

“There is no point going to the IPC,” Demetriades told CNA.

The lawyer is also asking for additional compensation over Ankara’s failure to pay some €20.8m awarded to Lordos and others by the ECHR in 2012.

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