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Cyprus

More cases filed at ECHR after IPC fails to make payouts

The European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has notified the governments of Turkey and Cyprus of the submission of three more applications concerning the ineffectiveness of the immovable property commission (IPC) that operates in the breakaway state in the north of the island.

The applications follow an ECHR decision in December 2017 which upheld Greek Cypriot Adriani Joannou’s claim that IPC procedures were protracted and ineffective after she had applied for compensation for her property in the north in 2008.

The decision prompted the IPC to return part of Joannou’s property in Koma tou Yialou but the refugee appealed the decision.

The new cases concern an applicant who went to the IPC in 2011, demanding compensation for his property. He settled on an offer for £428,360 sterling but the money was never paid. The man applied to the ECHR citing the lengthy delay and also claims he was discriminated against because of his Greek Cypriot descent.

A company also applied to the ECHR over a complex it owns inside the closed-off town of Varosha in Famagusta. The company had filed an application with the IPC in July 2010 asking for compensation for loss of use and restitution of the property.

Examination of the case was interrupted numerous times and in October 2012 it was said that it had been taken over by the Islamic religious organisation Evkaf. A month later, the IPC decided that Evkaf must be included in the process as a litigant.

The company then applied to a court, which decided in 2015 that Evkaf cannot be included in the process. The decision was overturned by the supreme court in the breakaway state in 2016. The process has stagnated since.

In the third case, two Greek Cypriot refugees applied to the IPC in 2012 over a property they had inherited from their mother. They asked for compensation and restoration of the property but their application went nowhere forcing them to seek recourse at the ECHR. The applicants claimed the IPC was not an effective domestic remedy and accused it of discrimination.

The deadline to settle the three cases expires in June.

In the Joannou case, the ECHR said its ruling concerned the particular case only and was “not calling into question the effectiveness of the IPC remedy as such”.

It stressed that, at present, the IPC remained a remedy to be exhausted by other applicants who wish to invoke their rights and the court “remains attentive to the developments in the functioning of the IPC remedy and its ability to effectively address Greek Cypriot property claims”.

The IPC was set up by Turkey in 2005 and was accepted by the ECHR as a way to deal with Greek Cypriot claims for compensation for their occupied properties.


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