ECHR Ordinance of 04 April 2017 in the case of Guzelyurtlu and Others v. Cyprus and Turkey (application No. 36925/07).
In 2007, the applicants were assisted in preparing the application. Subsequently, the application was communicated to Cyprus and Turkey.
In the case, the complaint on the evasion of the authorities of Turkey and Cyprus from cooperation in the investigation of the murder was successfully considered. There have been violations of Article 2 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicants are close relatives of three Cypriot citizens of Turkish origin who were found dead with bullet wounds on the island controlled by the Government of Cyprus in 2005. The Cypriot and Turkish authorities (including the "TRNC") (meaning the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) immediately launched an investigation. However, although the Cypriot authorities were installed, and the authorities of the TRNC detained and questioned eight suspects, both investigations reached an impasse, and the cases were temporarily suspended until new circumstances appeared. Although the cases were not terminated, after 2008 there were no events. The Turkish authorities continued to await the evidence that would allow the conviction of the suspects, while the Cyprus investigation stalled after Turkey returned requests for extradition by the Cypriot authorities. Measures taken as a result of the mediation of UN peacekeeping forces in Cyprus (hereinafter UNFICYP) proved useless due to the fact that the authorities of the respondent states insisted on their positions.
In the conventional proceedings, the applicants complained of a violation of Article 2 of the Convention by the authorities of Cyprus and Turkey in connection with the inability to conduct an effective investigation into the deaths and cooperate in the course of the investigation.
ISSUES OF LAW
Concerning compliance with Article 2 of the Convention (procedural aspect). Since the death of the applicants' relatives occurred on the territory controlled by the Republic of Cyprus and under the jurisdiction of that State, a procedural obligation of Cyprus to investigate the death of people arose. Turkey's procedural obligation also existed, since the suspects in the murder were in Turkish jurisdiction, in the "TRNC" or mainland Turkey, and the authorities of Turkey and "TRNC" were notified of the crime, and "red notices" regarding the suspects (referring to Interpol's requests to detain persons under international search). Indeed, the authorities of the "TRNC" began their own criminal investigation, and their courts had jurisdiction over the perpetrators of crimes on the island of Cyprus.
The applicants' complaint under Article 2 of the Convention concerned the conduct of the relevant investigations by the authorities of Cyprus and Turkey and the evasion of the authorities of the respondent States from cooperation with each other.
(a) Conducting investigations. Both respondent states carried out a large number of investigative measures without delay. The Court did not find in their actions deficiencies that could call into question the overall adequacy of the investigations as such. However, there was no need to conclude in accordance with Article 2 of the Convention on this issue, in view of the conclusions of the European Court concerning cooperation between the two States.
(b) The procedural obligation of cooperation. In circumstances like in the present case, when the investigation of the murder inevitably affected more than one state, it entailed an obligation on the part of the authorities of the respondent States to cooperate effectively and take all necessary measures for this purpose in order to facilitate and implement an effective investigation in the whole case. This duty consisted in maintaining the effective protection of the right to life under Article 2 of the Convention and was consistent with the position of the relevant Council of Europe documents that provided for intergovernmental cooperation in order to more effectively prevent and suppress transnational crimes and punish those responsible. The nature and extent of the required cooperation inevitably depend on the circumstances of the particular case. The Court is not empowered to determine whether the authorities of the respondent States have complied with their obligations under the European Convention on Extradition and the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and it should not indicate what measures the authorities were to take to ensure that the respondent States respected their obligations most effectively. The Court's task was to certify that the measures taken were appropriate and sufficient in such circumstances and in determining to what extent the minimum effort was possible and should have been taken.
From the materials provided to the Court, including the report of the UN Secretary General on the UN operation in Cyprus on May 27, 2005, it follows that the respondent states are not ready for a compromise and a search for mutual understanding. This position was based on political considerations reflecting the long and tense political dispute between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey. Although the respondent states had the opportunity to find a solution and come to an agreement mediated by UNFICYP, they did not use this opportunity. Any suggestions, such as meetings in a neutral area between police authorities, interrogation of suspects using a "video interrogation method" in the UN buffer zone, the possibility of organizing an ad hoc court in a neutral territory, the exchange of evidence and consideration of the level of technical services that were being made with the purpose of finding a compromise solution, faced a frank refusal by the authorities. Although several inter-community working groups and technical committees have been established, it seems that no one has considered the case to advance the investigation.
As a result of evasion of the respondent States from cooperation, their respective investigations have not progressed, and nothing has been done for more than eight years. The past time inevitably influenced the quantity and quality of available evidence and worsened the chances of completing the investigation. It also prolonged the suffering of family members.
At present, a lot of evidence is collected, eight suspects are identified, found and detained. Evasion from direct cooperation or with the mediation of UNFICYP entailed their release. If cooperation took place in accordance with the procedural obligation under Article 2 of the Convention, criminal proceedings could be instituted against one or more suspects or the investigation could come to a proper conclusion.
The violation of the requirements of Article 2 of the Convention by the Turkish authorities (unanimously) was admitted in the case, violation of the requirements of Article 2 of the Convention by the Cypriot authorities (adopted by five votes "for" with two against).
In the application of Article 41 of the Convention. The Court awarded each applicant EUR 8,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.