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Publication:2004-V
Title:Aziz v. Cyprus
Application No:69949/01
Respondent:Cyprus
Referred by:
Date of reference by Commission:
Date of reference by State:
Date of Judgment:22-06-2004
Articles:14
P1-3
41
Conclusion:Violation of article 14 jo. P1-3
Violation of article P1-3
Compensation awarded for costs and expenses
Keywords:DISCRIMINATION / FREE AND PERIODIC ELECTIONS / VOTE

Summary:
(Press release)
The applicant, Ibrahim Aziz, is a Cypriot national of Turkish origin who was born in 1938 and lives in Nicosia. On 30 January 2001 he applied to the Minister of the Interior, asking to be registered on the electoral roll in order to vote in the parliamentary elections of 27 May 2001. His request was refused on 8 February 2001 on the ground that, under Article 63 of the Constitution, members of the Turkish-Cypriot community could not be registered in the Greek-Cypriot electoral roll. The applicant was also informed that the matter was under consideration by the Attorney-General of the Republic and that he would be informed of any developments. On 27 April 2001 the applicant lodged an application with the Supreme Court against the decision of the Ministry of the Interior. He relied on Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights and submitted that, following the dissolution of the Communal Chambers, the Cypriot Government had failed to set up two electoral lists in order to protect the electoral rights of members of both communities. On 23 May 2001 the Supreme Court dismissed the application, holding that Article 63 of the Cypriot Constitution and Article 5 of Law No. 72/79 (relating to the election of members of parliament) did not provide for members of the Turkish-Cypriot community living in the Government-controlled part of Cyprus to be included in the Greek-Cypriot electoral list and consequently, vote in parliamentary elections. The court stated that it did not have the competence to reform the Constitution, which provides for the compilation of separate electoral lists and for separate elections of the representatives of each community, as this would be contrary to the principle of the separation of powers.

The applicant complained that he was refused permission to be registered on the electoral roll, in order to vote in the parliamentary elections of 27 May 2001, because he was a member of the Turkish-Cypriot community. He relied on Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 (right to free elections) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention.

Article 3 of Protocol No. 1
The Court recalled that Article 63 of the Cypriot Constitution, which entered into force in August 1960, provided for separate electoral lists for the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities. Nonetheless, the participation of Turkish-Cypriot members of parliament was suspended from 1963, from which time the relevant articles of the Constitution providing for the parliamentary representation of the Turkish-Cypriot community and the quotas to be adhered to by the two communities became impossible to implement in practice.
 
The Court noted that States which had ratified the European Convention on Human Rights enjoyed considerable latitude in establishing rules within their constitutional order governing parliamentary elections and the composition of their parliaments; the relevant criteria might vary according to the historical and political factors peculiar to each State. However, those rules should not be such as to exclude certain people or groups of people from participating in the political life of the country and, in particular, in the choice of the legislature, a right guaranteed by both the European Convention on Human Rights and the Constitutions of all Contracting States.
 
The Court noted that the situation in Cyprus deteriorated following the occupation of northern Cyprus by Turkish troops and had continued to do so for the last 30 years. It further observed that, despite the fact that the relevant constitutional provisions had been rendered ineffective, there was a notable lack of legislation to resolve the resulting problems. Consequently, the applicant, as a member of the Turkish–Cypriot community living in the Government-controlled area of Cyprus, was completely deprived of any opportunity to express his opinion in the choice of the members of the house of representatives of the country of which he was a national and where he had always lived.
 
Considering that the very essence of the applicant's right to vote, as guaranteed by Article 3 of Protocol No. 1, had been denied, the Court held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1.
 
Article 14
The Court noted that the applicant was a Cypriot national, resident in the Government-controlled area of Cyprus. It observed that the difference in treatment of which the applicant complained resulted from the fact that he was a Turkish Cypriot; it emanated from the constitutional provisions regulating the voting rights of members of the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities that had become impossible to implement in practice.
 
The Court considered that this difference could not be justified on reasonable and objective grounds, particularly in the light of the fact that Turkish Cypriots in the applicant's situation were prevented from voting at any parliamentary election.
 
The Court therefore concluded that there was a clear inequality of treatment in the enjoyment of the right in question, which had to be considered a fundamental aspect of the case. There had accordingly been a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 3 of Protocol No. 1.

Article 41
Under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention, the Court awarded the applicant 3,500 euros (EUR) for costs and expenses.

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Last Modified: 13-01-2014 16:18:19 (Documentation SIM)