10 years on, family given new chance to appeal unlawful deprivation of their home following decision by the European Court of Human Rights

1 July 2014
10 years on, family given new chance to appeal unlawful deprivation of their home following decision by the European Court of Human Rights

On 2 July 2014, almost 10 years since the Tunyan family were evicted from their home, their case is to be re-examined in Armenia following a judgment by the European Court of Human Rights. The family is represented by lawyers at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, which is based at Middlesex University (London).

Emma Tunyan’s family had lived in their home and owned the land on Buzand street, Yerevan, since the 1930s. In 2003 they were informed that their property was to be expropriated, along with thousands of others, by the property developer ‘Glendale Hills’, who had permission according to a governmental decree which claimed the expropriation was necessary “for the needs of the State”. The family tried to appeal the expropriation and eviction in the domestic courts, but were eventually evicted from their property, and lost their house and plot of land, without compensation.

The family took their case to the European Court of Human Rights in 2005. In 2012, the Court issued a judgment, ruling that their right to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions had been violated (Article 1 of Protocol 1) as the deprivation of their property rights had not been carried out in accordance with the law.

In November 2013, the family appealed to the Court of Cassation, citing the European Court’s judgment as a “new circumstance”. On 8 May 2014, the Court of Cassation quashed the original decision from 2005 which had allowed them to be deprived of their property, and sent the case for fresh examination to the Court of First Instance.

After a ten year battle, the case has returned to its starting point and will be re-examined given that the legal grounds for their eviction has been ruled unconstitutional and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Emma Tunyan and her family, despite all they have suffered over the past decade, continue their fight to protect their basic human rights, with support from the NGO, the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre.

On hearing about the decision to re-examine the case, Sashik Safyan, Mrs Tunyan’s husband, said; “With your help, it looks like our home will finally be returned to us.”

“This case is a clear example which reflects the injustice against thousands of habitants of the centre of Yerevan who were unlawfully deprived of their homes and land plots. At the same time, this is the first case where the judgments of the domestic courts on expropriation and eviction were quashed and the case is sent for fresh examination.”

Vahe Grigoryan, EHRAC Legal consultant.