Restitution of property in Albania in accordance with the Convention

The case of Beshiri v. Albania (application no. 29026/06, 07.05.2020) and 11 other applications concerned complaints about a prolonged lack of enforcement of final decisions awarding compensation for property expropriated during the communist era. In its decision in the case the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the applications inadmissible. 

The applicants have all received final administrative decisions recognising their right to compensation in lieu of the restitution of properties which were confiscated or nationalised by the former communist regime. However, those final decisions have never been enforced in full.

The Court in particular examined in detail the new domestic scheme for dealing with the many outstanding claims over decades-old compensation decisions which had not been enforced. That scheme, which was brought into effect by the 2015 Property Act, was a response to the Court’s pilot judgment in 2012 in the case of Manushaqe Puto and Others v. Albania, which had found violations of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial), Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the Convention and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) and had given general recommendations on the steps needed to deal with the long-standing issue in question. The Court concluded that the mechanism introduced by the 2015 Property Act was an effective remedy which the applicants had to use, even if their applications had been lodged before the Act had come into force. 

It declared their applications inadmissible for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, as premature, or because the applicants were no longer victims of a violation of their rights. The Court added a key proviso: it noted that the property valuations used by the 2015 Property Act might result, in some cases, in much lower levels of compensation than under previous legislation. To avoid such an excessive burden on this category of former owners, compensation under the new remedy therefore had to be at least equal to 10% of the value to which former owners would be entitled if the financial evaluation were to be carried out by reference to the current cadastral category of the expropriated property.

References from the official website of the European Court of Human Rights