CHAMBER HEARING CONCERNING THE DEMOLITION OF FLATS IN AN ALBANIAN COASTAL TOWN

The applicants are 18 Albanian nationals and one Italian national. In August 2010 the local authorities gave permission to build a residential building (“the Jon Residence/the Residence”) on a plot of land in Vlora. Two of the applicants, by virtue of their ownership of this plot of land, became owners of some of the flats constructed in the Jon Residence; the remaining applicants became owners of the flats via purchase agreements. Upon completion of the construction works, the majority of the flats were furnished and some of the applicants moved into their respective flats. However, on 3 November 2013, without prior notice, the urban construction inspectorate authorities – supported by the police – surrounded the residence and cordoned it off with yellow crime scene tape. The applicants were prevented from entering their flats and retrieving their belongings. They were told that the authorities were seizing their residence in order to evaluate the legality of the construction permit and other relevant documents. The applicants lodged a complaint with the administrative courts and, on 7 November 2013, an injunction was issued ordering the authorities to refrain from any actions that could breach the applicants’ property rights. In a subsequent decision in January 2014 the administrative court found that the authorities’ actions of 3 November 2013 had been unlawful. Despite the injunction, the entire residential building was demolished between 4 and 8 December 2013. In the meantime, on 27 November 2013 the Government had adopted a decision ordering the expropriation of the applicants’ properties in the public interest and the payment of compensation. The proceedings challenging the amount of compensation awarded by the Government are still pending before the Supreme Court, which, on 15 January 2015, decided to stay the enforcement of the lower court’s decision awarding the applicants 1,580,712,322 Albanian leks (approximately 11,639,800 euros) in compensation. Relying on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial), Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the European Convention on Human Rights, the applicants complain about the demolition of their flats, including their personal belongings, despite the administrative court’s injunction order. They further complain under Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) that there was no effective remedy for them to bring these complaints before the domestic courts and under Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) that they suffered discrimination. Lastly, relying on Article 6 § 2 (presumption of innocence), they complain, amongst other things, that the authorities used crime scene tape to prevent access to their flats.

http://echr.coe.int/Pages/home.aspx?p=hearings&w=1061316_23052017&language=en

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