AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
Application no. 68110/01
by Andreas ECONOMIDES and Others
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 1 June 2010 as a Chamber composed of:
Nicolas Bratza, President,
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Işıl Karakaş, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 26 March 2001,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicants.
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicants, who are Cypriot citizens, are Andrea Economides, born in 1936 and Despo Economides, born in 1938. They are both resident in Athens, Greece. They were represented before the Court by Mr A. Demetriades and Mr M. Rafael, lawyers practising in Nicosia. The Turkish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent.
The first applicant died on 9 October 2005. His heirs, who were his wife (the second applicant above) and his two children, Porfryrios Economides and Sotoroulla Economidou, applied to continue the application on his behalf.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicants, may be summarised as follows.
At the time of the 1974 Turkish intervention in northern Cyprus, the first and second applicants, married in 1959, were living in rented property in Kyrenia; their two children were born in 1961 and 1964. The first applicant owned two plots of land and also had set up and was running various businesses, including a shop, a farm and a hotel. On being forced to flee, the applicants lost everything.
Subsequently, the first applicant inherited as sole heir the family home of his parents and two plots of land.
Since 1974, the applicants stated that they had been prevented from having access to and using their properties and homes.
The applicants complained under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that they had been denied access to, and enjoyment of their properties in northern Cyprus. They complained under Article 8 about lack of access to home and under Article 14 that the above matters disclosed discrimination.
A. Concerning the first applicant
The Court notes that the first applicant died after having introduced his complaints. His widow, the second applicant, and their children, who are his legal heirs, have applied to continue the application in the name of the applicant. Having regard to the particular circumstances of the case, the Court would note that insofar as the first applicant's property is now owned by the legal heirs any claims in respect of that property can be continued by those individuals. Insofar as the first applicant complained about his inability to return to the family home or ancestral home of his parents, which complaint is related to his past ties to that property, the Court considers that this concerns a matter of an eminently personal, non-transferable nature (see, for example, Vääri v. Estonia (dec.), no. 8702/04, 8 July 2008). Consequently, considering that there exists no general interest which necessitates proceeding with the examination of the complaint, the Court finds that the conditions in which a complaint may be struck out of its list, as provided in Article 37 § 1 of the Convention, are satisfied.
B. Concerning property issues (Article 1 of Protocol No. 1)
Insofar as the applicants in these applications complained of interference with their property rights guaranteed under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, the Court recalls that applicants are required by Article 35 § 1 of the Convention to exhaust available, effective domestic remedies. It also recalls that in Demopoulos and Others v. Turkey [GC] (no. 46113/99 et al, decision of 1 March 2010, ECHR 2010-...) the Grand Chamber examined the issue of whether Greek-Cypriot applicant property-owners had available to them a remedy in respect of their complaints concerning property in the northern part of Cyprus. It found that for the purposes of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention, the procedure before the Immovable Property Commission (“IPC”), and further appeal to the “TRNC” High Administrative Court, provided for in Law 67/2005, were to be regarded as “domestic remedies” of the respondent State and that no ground of exemption from the application of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention has been established in that respect. As to the efficacy of the framework of redress provided, it held:
“127. The Court finds that Law 67/2005 provides an accessible and effective framework of redress in respect of complaints about interference with the property owned by Greek Cypriots. The applicant property owners in the present cases have not made use of this mechanism and their complaints under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention must therefore be rejected for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies. It is satisfied that Law 67/2005 makes realistic provision for redress in the current situation of occupation that is beyond this Court's competence to resolve.
128. Lastly, it would stress that this decision is not be interpreted as requiring that applicants make use of the IPC. They may choose not to do so and await a political solution. If, however at this point in time, any applicant wishes to invoke his or her rights under the Convention, the admissibility of those claims will be decided in line with the principles and approach above. The Court's ultimate supervisory jurisdiction remains in respect of any complaints lodged by applicants who, in conformity with the principle of subsidiarity, have exhausted available avenues of redress.”
The Court notes that the applicant property owners in the present cases, or as appropriate their legal heirs, have not made use of this mechanism. Their complaints under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention must therefore be rejected for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies pursuant to Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.
C. Concerning Article 8 (right to respect for home)
The Court notes that insofar as the second applicant and her children referred to an inability to return to the property in which they were living in 1974, this was rented accommodation and in the absence of any title to the premises it is not apparent that there is any subsisting and concrete link with that property some thirty-six years later which would disclose an ongoing interference with a right to respect for home at the present time. Insofar as reference was made to the first applicant's ancestral home, the sole fact of being the heir of someone who had once had a home in a particular location cannot, without more, entitle the person concerned to claim that lack of enjoyment of, or access to the property shows any lack of respect for their own right to home under Article 8 of the Convention (Hadjithomas and Others v. Turkey, no. 39970/98, § 39, 22 September 2009).
It follows that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
D. Remaining complaint (Article 14 of the Convention)
Having regard to the facts of the case, the submissions of the parties and its findings under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 and Article 8 of the Convention, the Court considers that no further issue arises for examination concerning the remaining complaint made by the applicants.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the complaint concerning lack of access to home by the first applicant out of its list;
Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.
Fatoş Aracı Nicolas
Deputy Registrar President
ECONOMIDES v. TURKEY DECISION
ECONOMIDES v. TURKEY DECISION