Deputies at Strasbourg meeting discuss missing persons in Cyprus

The issue of missing persons in Cyprus and Turkey’s failure to pay compensation to their relatives, in line with a European Court judgement issued in 2014, is part of the agenda of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, that convenes in Strasbourg.

Prior to the meeting, which started on Tuesday and will last until Thursday, Nicosia submitted a memorandum with its position, asking Deputies to call upon Turkey to provide the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP) with immediate and unhindered access to all military zones in the occupied part of Cyprus and open the military archives in its possession containing information on burial sites.

Nicosia also requests that Ankara takes concrete measures to avert any future relocation of remains and disturbance of burial sites and asks member states to request that Turkey immediately pays with interest the amounts awarded in 2014 by the European Court of Human Rights to missing persons’ relatives and enclaved persons.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Hundreds of Greek Cypriots went missing during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, most of them combatants but also women, children and elderly people. During the same period and in the early 1960 when intercommunal fighting broke out Turkish Cypriots went missing too.

A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.

Ahead of the meeting, human rights lawyer Achilleas Demetriades sent a letter to the Committee of Ministers, informing the body that the immovable property committee (IPC) operating in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus did not issue a decision for his client, Andriani Joannou, who asked to be compensated for her property. The six-month deadline ended on March 4, 2019 and, according to Demetriades this appears to be part of the delaying tactics of the Respondent and should not remain unnoticed by the Deputies.

In December 2017, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had issued a judgment on a case brought forward by Joannou against Turkey, ruling that IPC proceedings in the applicant’s case were protracted and ineffective.

Deputies to discuss implementation of judgmenets with experts

According to a relevant announcement, the Committee of Ministers meeting will follow a thematic debate on member states’ obligation to investigate violations of the right to life and prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment of the European Convention on Human Rights by law enforcement officials.

The debate, involving experts from many national capitals, is an opportunity to share information and best practices on the implementation of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights in these areas, it is added.

Speakers include Mykola Gnatovskyy, President of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture, and Emmanuel Decaux, member of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

Source: Cyprus News Agency