Kurić and others v. Slovenia (application No. 26828/06)
In its judgement of 26 June 2012 in the case Kurić and others vs. Slovenia the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights confirmed that the Republic of Slovenia has violated the rights of the erased people. It found a violation of Article 8 (right to privacy and family life) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition it also found the violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition of discrimination), because the erased people, being citizens of former Yugoslavia, were treated less favourably than those who had foreigners’ status.
The Court found that the government measures taken since 1999 were not sufficient for full and timely remedying of violations caused with the erasure. The Court found that the situation of the applicants is a result of a broader structural problem and that the erased people cannot claim compensation for the damage due to the expiration of statutory limitations. Therefore, a pilot judgement has been delivered and the Court ordered Slovenia to set up an ad hoc mechanism for recognition of compensations to the erased people.
Some parts of the judgement are however less favourable for the erased people. Already at the first instance, the Court found that two applicants who have already regulated their status by then do not have the status of the victim anymore and their applications were declared inadmissible. The Grand Chamber described this first instance decision as incorrect, however, due to procedural reasons it could not change it. The Grand Chamber then found that another two applicants who haven’t submitted their applications for permanent residence by the time of the decision at the first instance, do not have the status of victims either (this decision was made following a close vote of 9:8).
This means that the violations of rights were established only for the remaining six applicants, who have also been awarded 20.000 eur per person as compensation for non-pecuniary damages. The court has also recognized the right to reimbursement of expenses amounting to 30.000 eur for the applicants. The judgement is final and it cannot be appealed.
The Initiation of the Procedure
The procedure in the Kurić case began on 4 July 2006 when the Italian attorneys’ office Lana Lagostena-Bassi representing eleven applicants who were from among the erased people, lodged an application against the Republic of Slovenia.
In the preparation of the lawsuit the attorneys’ office was assisted by the defenders of the erased people’s rights, in particular Uršula Lipovec Čebron, Roberto Pignoni and Sara Pistotnik.
Several other entities got involved in the procedure before the European Court by submitting third party interventions (amicus curiae briefs), namely the Peace Institute, Legal-Informational Centre of Non-governmental Organizations – PIC, Open Society Justice Initiative, Equal Rights Trust, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as the Republic of Serbia. See third party interventions.
The Name of the Case
The case was first named Makuc and others v. Slovenia. The first Milan Makuc however passed away on 1 June 2008. The case, named after him, was renamed to the second applicant, Mustafa Kurić.
Positive First Instance Decision
On 31 May 2007 the European Court issued a decision on admissibility, declaring some of the claims in the application inadmissible. The rest of the claims were referred to the government of the Republic of Slovenia for response.
With a judgment of 13 July 2010 the European Court found a violation of the right to protection of private and family life, guaranteed with Article 8 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the right to effective legal remedy, guaranteed with Article 13 of the Convention. The violation was found in relation to eight out of ten applicants. For the other two applicants the Court decided that they no longer had a status of a victim as they were already issued permanent residence permits in the time when the decision was taken.
The Court found that these two rights were violated since the Republic of Slovenia did not adopt appropriate legislation to enable the regulation of legal statuses of the erased persons and since the applicants in this case were not yet issued a permanent residence permit. With an aim to remedy the violations the European Court instructed the Republic of Slovenia to adopt individual and general measures, in particular adoption of appropriate legislation and issuing of permanent residence permit.
Referral to the Grand Chamber
On 13 October 2010 both the applicants and the Slovenian Government submitted addressed a request for referral of the case to the Grand Chamber.
The Republic of Slovenia requested the referral since it claimed that the appropriate general and individual measures for remedying the violation were already adopted. It stated that all the applicants who applied for permanent residence permits were issued such permits, and that with the adoption of the 2010 amendments the regulation of legal status was made possible for all other erased who meet the conditions set by law.
The applicants requested a referral since the Court considered that two of the applicants lost their victim status due to the fact that in the time when the first instance decision was issued already had permanent residence permits. The applicants stated that an issued permanent residence permit represented only stopped the violation from continuing, however, it does not remedy the violations occurring in the past. They claimed that the issuing of a permanent residence permit does not suffice and that the violations in the past also require remedying.
The Grand Chamber of the European Court held a public hearing on 6 July 2011.
- Watch the webcast of the hearing.
Third Party Interventions
In the case Kurić and others v. Slovenia several other entities got involved in the procedure before the European Court by submitting third party interventions. All of them supported the claims of the erased people.
- Peace Institute and Legal-Informational Centre of Non-governmental Organizations – PIC (memorandum)
- Open Society Justice Initiative (memorandum)
- Equal Rights Trust (memorandum)
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (memorandum)
- Republic of Serbia
Key documents in the case Kurić and others v. Slovenia
- ECHR Grand Chamber Judgment of 26 June 2012
- Request of the Slovenian Government for referral to the ECHR Grand Chamber of 12 October 2010
- ECHR Judgment of 13 July 2010
- Response of the Slovenian Government to the Application of 26 October 2007
- ECHR Admissibility Decision of 31 May 2007
- Application no. 26828/06 of 4 July 2006