ECHR supported Armenian farmers, the government ought to pay compensations

14.3.2019 - STRASBOURG / TEGHOUT
Plaintiffs discussing the issue with environmentalists from Yerevan
PHOTO: Ecolur.org

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in favour of the plaintiffs from the North-Armenian province of Lori. All six complaints in question indict the Armenian courts of violating their property rights. After almost ten years, the tribunal backed those allegations and imposed fines to the government with a total amount of € 70,000. The news on the verdict were reported by the Tert.am news portal.

The reason behind the cases is the purchase attempts of agricultural land by Armenian Copper Programme (ACP), a Russian owned mining company operating near the villages of Teghout and Shnogh. By the decision of the Armenian Government in November 2007, the status of the entire area in question, located near the borders with Azerbaijan and Georgia, was changed and taken away by eminent domain.

The owners were later offered financial settlement by ACP and its affiliate Teghout CJSC, but they considered the price to be well below the market value.

“The villagers received miserable compensation – about 10-20 cents per square meter of land – paid by ACP for their fertile lands and crops. Some villagers lost their property, while others’ property will be largely affected by and eventually degraded through contamination caused by mining,” a 2012 appeal to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights describes.

After that, a series of court trials followed in which the mining company sought to force farmers to agree to the sell, they again defended against allegedly unfair procedures and courts’ verdicts.

Farmers eventually decided to seek justice in Strasbourg with the ECHR in 2009-2010, which just recently ruled in favour of all of the six official complaints. The Armenian Government was ordered to pay damages from € 5,200 to € 17,200 to each plaintiff with total amount of € 69,400 (more than 38 millions AMD).

“The ECHR judgment says that unfair trial has been carried out. This is sufficient once again to call upon to court. At that time, the evidence submitted to the court of the first instance was not sufficient as no expert dared to carry outa double assessment of my land areas,” said the one of the plaintiffs, Levon Alikhanyan.

Armenian Copper Programme (ACP) is a part of the Russian owned Vallex Group holding, which also runs a copper smelting plant in near town of Alaverdi. The whole of the metallurgical industry here strongly affects the health of local population. Analyzes of samples taken here have shown contamination with toxic substances, especially copper, zinc, molybdenum, lead and arsenic.

 

1/ The two resolutions of 1 November 2007 go under registration numbers 1278-N and 1279-N.

Find the judgments of the ECHR through the links below:
Case of Ramazyan v. Armenia (54769/10)
Case of Levon Alikhanyan v. Armenia (6818/10)
Case of Parsadanyan v. Armenia (5444/10)
Case of Vardanyan and Hakhverdyan v. Armenia (4178/10)
Case of Mashinyan and Ramazyan v. Armenia (65124/09)
Case of Mher Alikhanyan v. Armenia (4413/10)

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