European Court Rules on Evictions in Armenia

The European Court decided in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding them monetary compensation.

YEREVAN (A.W.)—Residents of Buzand St. in Yerevan took their complaints to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) when they were evicted—and under-compensated—by the state to pave the way for a new construction project: Northern Avenue. In recent rulings on Hovhannisyan and Siroyan v. Armenia, the ECHR decided in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding them monetary compensation.

On Nov. 15, the court awarded the plaintiffs 18,500 euros in damages, and an additional 45 euros to Hovhannisyan for court-related costs and expenses. The state has three months to pay the sum. The court based its judgment on Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (Protection of Property) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The decision is a chamber judgment, and is therefore not final.

The Hovannisyan family was evicted in 2005. The family was paid $10,500, a sum too little to afford another apartment, Sedrak Baghdasaryan, the president of the NGO “Victims of State Needs,” told Human Rights in Armenia (HRA), a wing of the Civil Society Institute. Baghdasaryan also noted that there are 20 more cases pending in the ECHR against the Republic of Armenia over property rights.

The construction company that bought the properties on Buzand St. is now bankrupt and facing criminal charges, according to Vahe Grigoryan, the lawyer representing the Hovannisyans. The state must now compensate the more than two dozen families who were evicted and under-compensated from 2000-06. According to ArmeniaNow, the court has thus far awarded eight families a total sum exceeding $500,000. Another 10 cases—over the same construction project—are pending.

Six months earlier, the ECHR awarded a symbolic 8,000 euros to Nelly Minasyan and Yelena Semerjyan after the two women were evicted from their residences on Buzand St. The construction company offered the former owners $6,000 for the 26 square-meter property, and an additional $6,000 for a speedy eviction. The women went through the domestic judicial processes without a satisfactory outcome, and finally applied to the ECHR and demanded 200,000 euros in compensation. Because the court could not determine the value of the property, it awarded the plaintiffs a fraction of their demands.

The construction of Northern Avenue was part of a government plan—dubbed “State Needs”—to encourage urban development. The plan was implemented under then-President Robert Kocharyan, who took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the controversial opening. Many critics and residents opposed the plan because it failed to consider the needs of the residents of the neighborhood. Property owners were inadequately compensated, forcefully evicted, and threatened with violence if they resisted, according to human rights organizations.

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian was the editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2014 to 2016. She served as assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2010 to 2014. Her writings focus on human rights, politics, poverty, and environmental and gender issues. She has reported from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabagh, Javakhk and Turkey. She earned her B.A. degree in Political Science and English and her M.A. in Conflict Resolution from the University of Massachusetts (Boston).
Nanore Barsoumian

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  1. This article assumes that a number of facts are common knowledge, rather than providing a full account of the issue. There should be a paragraph about previous judicial decisions, the basis of this decisions and why the Armenian court decisions can be appealed in Europe.

    Additionally, Buzand street in Yerevan has not been incorporated into Northern Boulevard. Buzand Street exists between Northern and Republic Sq. This article is likely missing info on this point as well.

  2. necati
    Who says there is no human rights abuse in Armenia and who says Armenia is wealthy and who says the European court lies?
    That is your way of talking about your “great turkish nation”. We do not deny facts even if they are unpleasant and even if they concern Armenia, just as we keep the record of those facts which make you tremble at hearing.
    I know you are fulfilling a mission here, but you can be sure your mission has backfired.
    You should be ashamed of your own existence.

  3. Necati …
    Are you paid to enter each page…?
    First apply human rights on innocents
    Those with your grandfathers scimitars
    With out shame … were slayed
    And later enter this page
    Something you don’t know about
    Go and educate your people … Not us …
    We are born knowing human rights …
    Always We have faith …
    That blood must not shed
    Any place on this earth …
    Where you breathe clean air
    Like anyone else…
    Let others breathe as well
    Don’t use your confused pen
    To show that you have still blood-full scimitar …


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