Minister Dermot Ahern welcomes ruling by European Court of Human Rights in the case of Bosphorus Airways v Ireland
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, TD, welcomes ruling by European Court of Human Rights in the case of Bosphorus Airways v Ireland
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, TD, has welcomed today's ruling by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, in the case of Bosphorus Airways v Ireland, that the Government's impounding of a Yugoslav owned aircraft in 1993 in enforcing United Nations and European Union sanctions was in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights.
"Today's unanimous verdict by the European Court of Human Rights strikes a careful balance between the need to prevent mass violations of human rights, such as were occurring in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990's, and the property rights of particular individuals. I am delighted that Ireland's forward stance in enforcing UN and EU obligations has been vindicated" said Mr Ahern.
Note of Editors:
From 1991 onwards, the United Nations adopted a series of sanctions against the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), designed to address the situation of armed conflict and mass violations of human rights occurring in the former Yugoslavia. The EU implemented these sanctions by regulations.
On 17 April 1993 the UN Security Council adopted a resolution ordering all UN member states to impound all aircraft in their territory in which a majority or controlling interest was held by a person or undertaking operating from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The UN resolution was implemented on 28 April by an EU Regulation.
In June 1993, on the advice of the Sanctions Committee set up by the Security Council to monitor the Yugoslav sanctions, the Government impounded an aircraft that had been leased by the applicant in this case, Bosphorus Airways, from JAT, the Yugoslav state airline shortly before the imposition of the sanctions. The aircraft was in Dublin for servicing by TEAM Aer Lingus.
The decision to impound the aircraft was challenged before the Irish courts by Bosphorus Airways and was referred by the Supreme Court to the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg, which ruled that the Government was obliged to seize such aircraft. The applicant subsequently brought a claim against the Government before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, claiming that its right to property, as guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights system, had been violated by the impounding of the aircraft.
In view of the nature of the issues involved, the Court decided that the applicant's claim would be heard before a Grand Chamber of 17 judges, reserved to hear cases of particular importance. In view of the EU aspect, the European Commission was permitted to intervene in the case.
The Grand Chamber ruled unanimously that Ireland's seizure of the aircraft did not violate the applicant's rights. In particular, it noted that the Government was obliged, in order to meet its international obligations, to impound the aircraft and that the applicant's complaint against the impoundment had been pursued within the framework of EU law . In this instance, EU law provided a level of protection equivalent to that provided under the European Convention on Human Rights system.
The Court Registrar's press release on the case is available on: http://www.echr.coe.int/Eng/Press/2005/June/GrandChamberjudgmentBosphorusAirwaysvIreland300605.htm#_ftn2
The Court's judgments are available on http://www.echr.coe.int