Loizidou v. Turkey is a landmark legal case regarding the rights of refugees wishing to return to their former homes and properties. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Mrs. Titina Loizidou, and consequently all other refugees, have the right to return to their former properties. The ECHR ruled that Turkey had violated Mrs. Loizidou's human rights, that she should be allowed to return to her home and that Turkey should pay damages to her. Turkey initially ignored this ruling.
On 22 July 1989 a Cypriot national Mrs. Titina Loizidou filed an application against Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights, represented by Greek-Cypriot lawyer Achilleas Demetriades. Mrs. Loizidou had been forced out of her home during Turkey's invasion of Cyprus in 1974 along with around 200,000 other Greek-Cypriots. During more than 20 years, she made a number of attempts to return to her home in Kyrenia but was denied entry into the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus by the Turkish army.
Her application resulted in three judgments by the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg) which held Turkey responsible for human rights violations in the northern part of Cyprus, which is under overall control of the Turkish armed forces.
The U.S. Department of State commented on this case as follows:
In 1996 the European Court of Human Rights ruled 11 to 6 that Turkey committed a continuing violation of the rights of a Greek Cypriot woman by preventing her from going to her property located in north Cyprus. The ruling reaffirmed the validity of property deeds issued prior to 1974. The Court also found in this case that "it was obvious from the large number of troops engaged in active duties in northern Cyprus that the Turkish army exercised effective overall control there. In the circumstances of the case, this entailed Turkey’s responsibility for the policies and actions of the ‘TRNC’". In July the Court ordered Turkey to pay the woman approximately $915,000 in damages and costs by October 28. Initially Turkey declined to pay the damages awarded. The Turkish Government stated that it cannot implement the Court’s decision, which it contends is a political decision, and argued that the land in question is not Turkish but is part of the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The Council of Europe (COE) during 1999 continued to call on the Turkish Government to comply with the Court’s decision. In October the COE Committee of Ministers’ Deputies voted to deplore Turkey’s lack of compliance. A number of similar cases have been filed with the ECHR.
The Court also stated expressly that the damages awarded were not compensation for the property per se, but only for the denial of the ownership and use of the property, and that Ms Loizidou retains full legal ownership of her property.
In 2003 Turkey paid Ms Loizidou the compensation amounts (of over $1 million) ruled by the European Court of Human Rights. Turkey has also evacuated her house to return it to her. Ms Loizidou has chosen not to return, as she claimed that there are Turkish occupation troops making her return unsafe. The Court accepted her claim. As a result, Turkey will continue to pay compensation to her for denying her the right to enjoy her property.