The Immovable Property Commission (IPC) is to come under scrutiny by the European Court of Human Rights after being in operation for ten years.
The Greek Cypriot government has until 22nd September to submit its opinion on Turkey’s position with regard to an application filed with the ECHR by a Greek Cypriot. She lodged a complaint with the Court about the lengthy delay by the (IPC) in dealing with her application.
Lawyer Achilleas Demetriades told CNA that the ECHR is called upon to decide on the effectiveness of the commission in light of its ten-year operation. He noted that with the application to ECHR, the “commission`s effectiveness is actually put under the microscope of the European Court.”
Demetriades explained that the Greek Cypriot filed an application to the (IPC) in 2008 and in 2014 appealed to the ECHR protesting about the delay in the examination of her application.
He noted that in the ‘Demopoulos’* case, the ECHR decided, as a matter of principle, that the remedy offered by Turkey with the establishment of the Immovable Property Commission was adequate, adding that in this case, the Court is called upon to decide whether this treatment is actually effective.
The lawyer said that apart from the fact that the IPC took too long to deal with applications, other factors have been raised with the appeal to the ECHR which demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the commission, such as the delay in the payment of compensation settled by the commission on the Greek Cypriots.
He referred in particular to a case where a Greek Cypriot claimant had to wait two years to receive 2.5 million euros as compensation for his property, which is in the north, adding that this case demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the commission.
Demetriades said that “there are 30 cases before the ECHR – which will be examined the Committee of Ministers on 22/9 – for which 50 million euros have been adjudicated and which Turkey refuses to pay.”
The IPC, he said could not be considered an effective domestic remedy.
Also included in the appeal to the ECHR, is the fact that applications relating to the fenced-off town of Famagusta (Varosha/Maras) the areas used by the Turkish army are excluded from compensation claims.
Further evidence of the IPC’s ineffectiveness is also highlighted by the fact that in the ten years of its existence, it has only managed to process 700 applications out of 6,000 pending cases. The application to the Court asks that it send a fact-finding team to establish how effective is the IPC.
The Turkish Government has already submitted its comments on the application of the Greek Cypriot, Demetriades said. He noted that the Greek Cypriot government has until 22nd September to respond.
Finally, he said that said it is up to the Court to decide if it will issue a decision or set a date for a hearing on the case.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the Immovable Properties Commission, which was set up in north Cyprus, constitutes an effective domestic remedy as far as addressing property claims by Greek Cypriots following the events of 1974.
According to the decision of the Court’s Grand Chamber, issued in 2010, Greek Cypriots must first exhaust domestic remedies before resorting to the ECHR in cases regarding violation of their rights by Turkey.
*Demopoulos and Others v. Turkey (2010)
The Applicants in this case were a group of Greek-Cypriots who claimed to own or partly own immovable or movable property in north Cyprus that was under the control of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
The applicant claimed that they had been deprived of their property rights since 1974. They maintained that under Article 8 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, they have been deprived of the use of their property.