Compliance of Cyprus with a decision of the European Court of Human Rights. The backround case (Vrountou vs. Cyprus)
The Republic of Cyprus has recommended to the Council of Europe to close the examination of the case relating to satisfaction of refugees, whose mother was a displaced person, as well as reported in the activity report sent to the Committee of Ministers, it has complied with its obligations. The degree of compliance of Cyprus with the judgment of the ECtHR in Case "Vrountou against Cyprus" is expected to be discussed at the meeting of the Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg, between 6 and 8December. The Cyprus Legal Service states that the difference in treatment between children of a displaced woman and children of a displaced man expired in 2013, through an amendment of the relevant legislation and recognition of all displaced persons’ children.
The applicant, Maria Vrountou, is a Cypriot national who was born in 1980 and lives in Kokkinotrimithia (Cyprus). The case concerned the failure to grant Ms Vrountou a refugee card. In 1974 the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cyprus approved the introduction of a scheme for war victims and persons displaced from areas occupied by the Turkish armed forces or evacuated to meet the needs of the National Guard. Under the scheme, displaced persons were entitled to refugee cards, which made them eligible to a range of benefits including housing assistance.
In February 2003 Ms Vrountou applied to the migration authorities for a refugee card in respect of occupied Skylloura, the place from which her mother had been displaced. Her request was rejected in March 2003 on the basis that she could not be considered a displaced person because, while her mother was a displaced person, her father was not. In the ensuing judicial proceedings before the Supreme Court, Ms Vrountou’s recourse was dismissed at first instance in May 2004 because it was not possible to extend the applicable criteria for granting refugees cards so as to cover the children of displaced women. Notably a proposal to change the law had been placed before the House of Representatives’ Committee for Refugees but never approved.
The Supreme Court upheld these findings on appeal in March 2006, considering that it did not have jurisdiction to extend the refugee card scheme. Ms Vrountou complained about the refusal of the authorities to grant her a refugee card, alleging that this had meant that she had been denied a range of benefits, including housing assistance.
She also alleged that denying her a refugee card on the basis that she had been the child of a displaced woman rather than a displaced man had been discriminatory on the grounds of sex and that no authority in Cyprus, including the courts, had examined the merits of her complaint. She relied in particular on Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property), Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination). The Court held: Violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 Violation of Article 13 Just satisfaction: EUR 29,000 (pecuniary damage), EUR 4,000 (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 6,981 (costs and expenses).