Tag Archive | asylum

Social rights of failed asylum seekers and Art. 3 ECHR

In an interesting decision, Hunde v. Netherlands, 05/07/2016, the Strasbourg Court elaborated on a question concerning fundamental social rights (housing and emergency social assistance) of a failed asylum seeker and their interplay with Art. 3 ECHR. The decision is of particular interest because it differentiates the status of a failed, and allegedly uncooperative, asylum seeker from that of an asylum seeker whose application is pending as was the case in M.S.S.

The decision contrasts with those adopted by the European Committee of Social Rights in 2014 in  Conference of European Churches (CEC) v. the Netherlands (complaint no. 90/2013) and in European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) v. the Netherlands (complaint no. 86/2012). Therein ECSR  found that the Netherlands had violated Article 13 §§ 1 and 4 of the European Social Charter, which guarantees the right to social assistance, and Article 31 § 2 of the Charter, the right to housing, by failing to provide adequate access to emergency assistance (food, clothing and shelter) to adult migrants in an irregular situation

Excerpts of decision:

1. General principles

45. Article 3 of the Convention enshrines one of the most fundamental values of democratic societies and prohibits in absolute terms torture and inhuman degrading treatment or punishment irrespective of the circumstances and of the victim’s conduct (see, among many authorities, Labita v. Italy [GC], no. 26772/95, § 119, ECHR 2000‑IV). The prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is a value of civilisation closely bound up with respect for human dignity (Bouyid v. Belgium [GC], no. 23380/09, § 81, ECHR 2015).

46. Unlike most of the substantive clauses of the Convention, Article 3 makes no provision for exceptions, and no derogation from it is permissible under Article 15 § 2 even in the event of a public emergency threatening the life of the nation. Even in the most difficult circumstances, such as the fight against terrorism and organised crime, the Convention prohibits in absolute terms torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, irrespective of the conduct of the person concerned. (see, among other authorities, Chahal v. the United Kingdom, 15 November 1996, § 79, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-V; Georgia v. Russia (I) [GC], no. 13255/07, § 192, ECHR 2014 (extracts); and Svinarenko and Slyadnev v. Russia [GC], nos. 32541/08 and 43441/08, § 113, ECHR 2014 (extracts)).

47. The Court has held on numerous occasions that to fall within the scope of Article 3 the ill-treatment must attain a minimum level of severity. The assessment of this minimum is relative: it depends on all the circumstances of the case, such as the duration of the treatment and its physical or mental effects and, in some instances, the sex, age and state of health of the victim (see for example Kudła v. Poland [GC], no. 30210/96, § 91, ECHR 2000‑XI).

48. Ill-treatment that attains such a minimum level of severity usually involves actual bodily injury or intense physical or mental suffering. However, even in the absence of these aspects, where treatment humiliates or debases an individual, showing a lack of respect for or diminishing his or her human dignity, or arouses feelings of fear, anguish or inferiority capable of breaking an individual’s moral and physical resistance, it may be characterised as degrading and also fall within the prohibition set forth in Article 3 (see, among other authorities, Vasyukov v. Russia, no. 2974/05, § 59, 5 April 2011; Gäfgen v. Germany [GC], no. 22978/05, § 89, ECHR 2010; Svinarenko and Slyadnev, cited above, § 114; and Georgia v. Russia (I), cited above, § 192).

49. The present case concerns the question whether the State had a positive obligation under Article 3 to provide the applicant – a rejected asylum-seeker at the material time – emergency social assistance. In that regard, the Court reiterates that Contracting States have the right, as a matter of well-established international law and subject to their treaty obligations, to control the entry, residence and expulsion of aliens (see, for example, Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy [GC], no. 27765/09, § 113, ECHR 2012; Üner v. the Netherlands [GC], no. 46410/99, § 54, ECHR 2006-XII; Abdulaziz, Cabales and Balkandali v. the United Kingdom, 28 May 1985, § 67, Series A no. 94; and Boujlifa v. France, 21 October 1997, § 42, Reports 1997-VI). The corollary of a State’s right to control immigration is the duty of aliens to submit to immigration controls and procedures and leave the territory of the Contracting State when so ordered if they are lawfully denied entry or residence (Jeunesse v. the Netherlands [GC], no. 12738/10, § 100, 3 October 2014).

50. Aliens who are subject to expulsion cannot, in principle, claim any entitlement to remain in the territory of a Contracting State in order to continue to benefit from medical, social or other forms of assistance and services provided by the expelling State (see N. v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 26565/05, § 42, 27 May 2008).

51. Moreover, Article 3 cannot be interpreted as obliging the High Contracting Parties to provide everyone within their jurisdiction with a home (see Chapman v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 27238/95, § 99, ECHR 2001‑I). Nor does Article 3 entail any general obligation to give refugees financial assistance to enable them to maintain a certain standard of living (see Müslim v. Turkey, no. 53566/99, § 85, 26 April 2005).

52. In the case of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece ([GC], no. 30696/09, ECHR 2011), the Court, attaching “considerable importance to the applicant’s status as an asylum-seeker and, as such, a member of a particularly underprivileged and vulnerable population group in need of special protection” (§ 251), considered, in so far as relevant:

“252. … the Court must determine whether a situation of extreme material poverty can raise an issue under Article 3.

253. The Court reiterates that it has not excluded the possibility ‘that State responsibility [under Article 3] could arise for “treatment” where an applicant, in circumstances wholly dependent on State support, found herself faced with official indifference when in a situation of serious deprivation or want incompatible with human dignity’ (see Budina v. Russia (dec.), no. 45603/05, 18 June 2009).”

2. Application of the general principles to the present case

53. The main thrust of the applicant’s complaint pertains to Articles 13 and 31 of the Charter and the decisions adopted by the ECSR on 1 July 2014 (see paragraph 37) which, in his view, lead to the conclusion that the denial of shelter and social assistance diminished his human dignity in a manner incompatible with Article 3 of the Convention. The Court acknowledges the importance of the economic and social rights laid down in the Charter and the issues raised in the two decisions by the ECSR. However, it cannot accept the applicant’s argument that the findings by the ECSR under the Charter should be considered to lead automatically to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

54. Whilst the Convention sets forth what are essentially civil and political rights, many of them have implications of a social or economic nature (see Airey v. Ireland, 9 October 1979, § 26, Series A no. 32). Furthermore, inherent in the whole of the Convention is a search for a fair balance between the demands of the general interest of the community and the requirements of the protection of the individual’s fundamental rights (see Soering v. the United Kingdom, 7 July 1989, § 89, Series A no. 161). While it is necessary, given the fundamental importance of Article 3 in the Convention system, for the Court to retain a degree of flexibility to prevent expulsion in very exceptional cases, Article 3 does not place an obligation on the Contracting State to alleviate such disparities through the provision of free and unlimited health care to all aliens without a right to stay within its jurisdiction. A finding to the contrary would place too great a burden on the Contracting States (see A.S. v. Switzerland, no. 39350/13, § 31, 30 June 2015).

55. In the case at hand and during the period complained of, the applicant was not entitled to any social assistance in the Netherlands. Referring to M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece (cited above), the applicant argued that the situation he found himself in was very similar to the situation in that case. However, there are crucial differences in that, unlike the applicant in M.S.S who was an asylum-seeker, the applicant in the present case was at the material time a failed asylum-seeker under a legal obligation to leave the territory of the Netherlands. Furthermore, even though the applicant’s loss of entitlement to legal residence in the Netherlands after the rejection of his asylum claim did not automatically affect his vulnerability as a migrant, the situation in which he found himself remained significantly different from that of M.S.S.. In the latter case, the relevant facts which had culminated in a finding of violation of Article 3, were the long duration in which the applicant had lived in a state of the most extreme poverty (the lack of food, hygiene and a place to live), and of fear of being attacked and robbed together with the fact that there had been no prospect of improvement. Furthermore, that situation was linked to his status as an asylum-seeker and, consequently, the applicant’s suffering could have been alleviated if the Greek authorities had promptly assessed his asylum application. By failing to do so the applicant was left in uncertainty.

56. Turning back to the present case, and emphasising once more that the applicant was a failed asylum-seeker at the material time, the uncertainty he found himself in was inherently different from M.S.S. in that it was not linked to the Netherlands authorities’ assessment of his asylum request. His asylum statement had already been examined and his asylum application refused, of which the applicant has not complained before the Court. Furthermore, it cannot be said that the Netherlands’ authorities have shown ignorance or inaction towards the applicant’s situation. After the applicant’s asylum proceedings had come to an end, the applicant was afforded a four week grace period to organise his voluntary return to his country of origin during which period he retained his entitlement to State-sponsored care and accommodation. Moreover, after he had overstayed this grace period, the applicant had the possibility of applying for reception facilities at a centre where his liberty would be restricted (see paragraph 31 above). The fact that admission to this centre was subject to the condition that he would cooperate in organising his departure to his country of origin cannot, as such, be regarded as incompatible with Article 3 of the Convention.

57. The Court also takes into account the fact that if it had been impossible for the applicant to return to his country of origin – either voluntarily or involuntarily – for reasons which cannot be attributed to him, he had the possibility of applying for a residence permit for persons who, through no fault of their own, are unable to leave the Netherlands (see paragraph 32 above). Nothing in the case file shows, however, that he has ever applied for such a residence permit. Nor has he ever contended at any stage during the domestic proceedings that he could not leave the Netherlands through no fault of his own.

58. The Court further observes that according to the general information provided by the Repatriation and Departure Service, returns to Ethiopia – voluntary or not – are possible, albeit with the alien’s cooperation if he or she is not in the possession of an original passport (see paragraph 39 above). The applicant submitted that he was released from immigration detention in July 2013 because an effective removal to his country of origin proved impossible, however without explaining why this was so. As the applicant was an undocumented migrant at the material time (see paragraph 6 above), his cooperation – in the form of expressing a willingness to return to Ethiopia and signing the request for a laissez-passer – was required in order to obtain a laissez-passer. However, in the applicant’s own admission, he did not wish to cooperate with the domestic authorities in organising his departure to Ethiopia.

59. The Court reiterates that there is no right to social assistance as such under the Convention and to the extent that Article 3 requires States to take action in situations of the most extreme poverty – also when it concerns irregular migrants – the Court notes that the Netherlands authorities have already addressed this in practical terms. In the first place, the applicant had the possibility of applying for a “no-fault residence permit” and/or to seek admission to a centre where his liberty would be restricted. It is furthermore possible for irregular migrants to seek a deferral of removal for medical reasons and to receive free medical treatment in case of emergency (see paragraph 30 above). In addition, the Netherlands have most recently set up a special scheme providing basic needs for irregular migrants living in their territory in an irregular manner (see paragraph 5 above). It is true that that scheme was only operational as from 17 December 2014, one year after the applicant had taken shelter in the Refuge Garage. However, it is inevitable that the design and practical implementation of such a scheme by local authorities of different municipalities take time. Moreover, the scheme was brought about as a result of a series of elements at the domestic level, including the applicant’s pursuit of domestic remedies in connection with his Article 3 claim. In these circumstances it cannot be said that the Netherlands authorities have fallen short of their obligations under Article 3 by having remained inactive or indifferent.

60. Considering the above, the Court finds that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 (a) and 4 of the Convention.

Link: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-165569

PACE Resolution 2109 (2016) The situation of refugees and migrants under the EU-Turkey Agreement of 18 March 2016

1. The Parliamentary Assembly takes note of the European Union-Turkey Agreement of 18 March 2016, adopted against the background of the unprecedented numbers of refugees and migrants arriving in western Europe via the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans route in 2015, which had generated political tensions in many States and an institutional crisis in the European Union. It recalls the fact that Turkey currently hosts over 2.7 million Syrian refugees, on whom it estimates to have spent over €7 billion.

2. The Assembly considers that the EU-Turkey Agreement raises several serious human rights issues relating to both its substance and its implementation now and in the future, in particular the following:

2.1. the Greek asylum system lacks the capacity to ensure timely registration of asylum applications, issue of first instance decisions or determination of appeals; the new Greek Law 4375/2016 may help to address earlier shortcomings but will not ensure adequate capacity;

2.2. detention of asylum seekers in the “hotspots” on the Aegean islands may be incompatible with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5), due notably to procedural failures undermining the legal grounds for detention and inadequate detention conditions;

2.3. children and vulnerable persons are not systematically referred from detention to appropriate alternative facilities;

2.4. returns of Syrian refugees to Turkey as a “first country of asylum” may be contrary to European Union and/or international law, as Turkey may not ensure protection that is “sufficient”, according to the position of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and there have been reports of onward refoulement of Syrians;

2.5. returns of asylum seekers, whether Syrians or not, to Turkey as a “safe third country” are contrary to European Union and/or international law, as Turkey does not provide them with protection in accordance with the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, non-Syrians do not have effective access to the asylum procedure and there have been reports of onward refoulement of both Syrians and non-Syrians;

2.6. remedies against decisions to return asylum seekers to Turkey do not always have automatic suspensive effect, as required by the European Convention on Human Rights;

2.7. resettlement of Syrian refugees from Turkey is made conditional on the number of returns from Greece and will subsequently depend on a “Voluntary Humanitarian Readmission Scheme”, which is likely in practice to generate unacceptably low levels of resettlement;

2.8. there have been unreasonable delays in the European Union’s disbursement of Financial assistance promised to Turkey to help support Syrian refugees in Turkey, which should not depend on developments in the Aegean Sea.

3. The Assembly also has concerns relating to certain parallel initiatives in areas closely related to the EU-Turkey Agreement, in particular the following:

3.1. the closure by “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” of its southern border, coupled with the EU-Turkey Agreement, has added to the pressure on Greece, a country already struggling with the effects of budgetary and financial austerity;

3.2. most European Union member States have effectively failed to honour their pledges to relocate refugees from Greece, despite the growing pressure that country is under;

3.3. it is premature to consider resuming transfers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation given the continuing inadequacies of its asylum system, the additional pressure of its current situation and the fact that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has not yet closed supervision of execution by Greece of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of M.S.S. v.Belgium and Greece.

4. The Assembly therefore recommends that Greece, as an implementing party of the EU-Turkey Agreement, and the European Union, insofar as it provides relevant operational assistance to the Greek authorities:

4.1. refrain from automatic detention of asylum seekers and ensure strict adherence to the requirements of national law, the European Convention on Human Rights and European Union law concerning both the grounds for and conditions of detention, with adequate provision for alternatives where detention is not justified or otherwise inappropriate, including following the expiry of time limits;

4.2. systematically ensure that children and vulnerable persons are promptly excluded from detention and referred to appropriate alternative facilities;

4.3. ensure that the rights and provisions under the European Union Reception Conditions Directive are fully respected for all refugees and migrants arriving in Greece;

4.4. refer the question of interpretation of the concept of “sufficient protection” in Article 35 of the

European Union Asylum Procedures Directive to the Court of Justice of the European Union and, until such interpretation has been given, refrain from involuntary returns of Syrian refugees to Turkey under this provision;

4.5. refrain from involuntary returns of asylum seekers to Turkey in reliance on Article 38 of the Asylum Procedures Directive;

4.6. ensure that sufficient resources, from within the Greek administration and seconded from other European Union member States, are rapidly made available so as to allow effective access to a proper asylum procedure and rapid first instance decisions and appeal determination, in accordance with European Union law, especially for applicants in detention;

4.7. revise the legislation to ensure that all appeals against decisions to return to Turkey have an automatic suspensive effect;

4.8. ensure that all migrants and asylum seekers whose applications are not accepted are treated with dignity and in full compliance with the European Union Return Directive.

5. The Assembly also recommends to the European Union, its member States, and States participating in European Union resettlement schemes, as appropriate:

5.1. resettlement pledges made under the 20 July 2015 European Union agreement on resettlement should be rapidly and fully honoured, regardless of developments in the implementation of the EUTurkey Agreement; beyond that, substantial numbers of Syrian refugees should be resettled from Turkey;

5.2. family reunion of refugees should be allowed without any delay or complicated procedures, in order to prevent family members from being forced to take an irregular route to reunification;

5.3. the financial assistance promised to Turkey in November 2015 to help support Syrian refugees should be disbursed without further delay;

5.4. commitments to relocate refugees from Greece should be rapidly fulfilled;

5.5. there should be no further consideration of resuming transfers to Greece under the Dublin

Regulation until the Committee of Ministers has closed its supervision of execution by Greece of the M.S.S. judgment.

6. Finally, the Assembly recommends that Turkey:

6.1. withdraw its geographical limitation to the 1951 Refugee Convention and recognise the status and fully respect the rights of refugees under that convention;

6.2. refrain from any onward refoulement of asylum seekers returned from Greece, ensuring access to the asylum system and to an effective remedy with suspensive effect against removal as required by the European Convention on Human Rights;

6.3. ensure that all migrants and asylum seekers  returned from Greece are treated in full accordance with international standards, including on detention.

Link:

http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/News/News-View-EN.asp?newsid=6132&lang=2&cat=8

 

Tragic case of Serbian Roma homeless asylum seekers in Belgium & France

Judgment delivered on 7 July 2015 by the ECtHR

The applicants are seven Serbian nationals, a father and mother and their five children. They were born in 1981, 1977, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2011 respectively and live in Serbia. Their eldest daughter,
who was born in 2001 and was mentally and physically disabled from birth, died in December 2011.

The applicants are of Roma origin and were born in Serbia, where they have lived for most of their lives.

In March 2010 the applicants travelled to France, where they submitted an asylum application which was rejected. In March 2011 they travelled to Belgium and lodged an asylum application there. On
12 April 2011 the Belgian authorities submitted a request to the French authorities to take back the family. On 6 May 2011 France accepted the request under the Dublin II Regulation2. On 17 May 2011 the Aliens Office in Belgium issued the applicants with an order to leave Belgian territory for France, on the ground that Belgium was not responsible for considering the asylum application under the Dublin II Regulation. On 25 May 2011 the time-limit for enforcement of the order to leave the territory was extended until 25 September 2011 owing to the mother’s pregnancy and imminent
confinement.

On 16 June 2011 the applicants submitted to the Aliens Appeals Board a request for the suspension and setting-aside of the decision refusing them leave to remain and ordering them to leave the country. On 22 September 2011 the applicants applied for leave to remain on medical grounds on behalf of their disabled eldest daughter. The Aliens Office rejected their application. On 26
September 2011, on expiry of the time-limit for enforcement of the order to leave the country, the applicants were expelled from the Sint-Truiden reception centre where they had been staying, as
they were no longer eligible for the material support provided to refugees. They travelled to Brussels, where voluntary associations directed them to a public square in the Schaerbeek municipality in the centre of the Brussels-Capital district, together with other homeless Roma families. They remained there until 5 October 2011. On 7 October 2011 they were assigned to a new reception facility as a mandatory place of registration in the Province of Luxembourg, 160 km from Brussels. The applicants eventually took up residence in Brussels North railway station, where they remained for three weeks until their return to Serbia was arranged on 25 October 2011 by a charity under the return programme run by Fedasil, the federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers.

In a judgment of 29 November 2011 the Aliens Appeals Board set aside the impugned decisions (the refusal of leave to remain and the order to leave the country) on the grounds that the Aliens Office had not established on what legal basis it considered France to be the State responsible for the applicants’ asylum application. The Belgian State lodged an appeal on points of law with the
Conseil d’État against the judgment of the Aliens Appeals Board. In a judgment of 28 February 2013 the Conseil d’État declared the appeal inadmissible for lack of current interest, given that the
applicants had returned to Serbia and that the Belgian State had been released from its obligations under the procedure for determining the Member State responsible for their asylum application.

Complaints, procedure and composition of the Court:

Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), the applicants complained that their exclusion from the reception facilities in Belgium from 26 September 2011 onwards had
exposed them to inhuman and degrading treatment. Under Article 2 (right to life), they alleged that the reception conditions in Belgium had caused the death of their eldest daughter. Lastly, under
Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), they complained that they had been unable to assert before the courts their claim that their removal to Serbia and the refusal to regularise their residence status had exposed them to a risk to their eldest daughter’s life (Article 2) and to a risk of suffering inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3).

Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment):

The Court reiterated that neither the Convention nor its Protocols conferred the right to political asylum and that Contracting States had the right, subject to their international undertakings
including the Convention, to control the entry, residence and expulsion of non-nationals.

Nevertheless, the State’s responsibility could be engaged in relation to asylum seekers’ conditions of reception. The Court observed3 that, in order to determine whether the threshold of severity required under Article 3 was met in a given situation, particular importance should be attached to the person’s status as an asylum seeker and, as such, a member of a particularly underprivileged and vulnerable population group in need of special protection. Asylum seekers’ vulnerability was heightened in the case of families with children, and the requirement of special protection had been even more important in the applicants’ case in view of the presence of small children, including one infant, and of a disabled child.

The Court had to ascertain in this case whether the applicants’ living conditions in Belgium between 26 September and 25 October 2011 engaged the responsibility of the Belgian State under Article 3.

The Court’s review related only to that period, between their eviction from the accommodation centre and their departure for Serbia, since the applicants’ reception and the fulfilment of their
needs prior to that period were not the subject of dispute. Between 26 September and 25 October 2011 their situation had been particularly serious as they had spent nine days on a public
square in Brussels and then, after two nights in a transit centre, a further three weeks in a Brussels train station. The Court noted that this situation could have been avoided or made shorter if the
proceedings brought by the applicants seeking the setting-aside and suspension of the decisions refusing them leave to remain and ordering them to leave the country, which had lasted for two
months, had been conducted more speedily.

However overstretched the reception network for asylum seekers in Belgium may have been at the time of the events5, the Court considered that the Belgian authorities had not given due
consideration to the applicants’ vulnerability and had failed in their obligation not to expose the applicants to conditions of extreme poverty for four weeks, leaving them living on the street,
without funds, with no access to sanitary facilities and no means of meeting their basic needs. The Court found that these living conditions, combined with the lack of any prospect of an improvement
in the applicants’ situation, had attained the level of severity required under Article 3. The applicants had therefore been subjected to degrading treatment, in breach of that provision.

Article 2 (right to life):

The Court noted that, although the Belgian authorities must have been aware that the applicants were living in poverty following their eviction from the centre, and must have known about their
eldest daughter’s medical conditions, the medical certificate had not mentioned the degree of severity of those conditions. It also noted, with regard to the timing of the events, that a number of
factors may have contributed to the child’s death, including having spent several weeks in insalubrious conditions after the family’s return to Serbia. Accordingly, the Court considered that the
applicants had not shown that their eldest daughter’s death had been caused by their living conditions in Belgium, or that the Belgian authorities had failed in their obligation to protect her life.

The Court therefore found no violation of Article 2.

Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) taken in conjunction with Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment):

On the basis of its analysis of the Belgian system as in force at the time of the events, the Court considered that the applicants had not had an effective remedy available to them, in the sense of
one that had automatic suspensive effect and enabled their allegations of a violation of Article 3 to be examined in a rapid and effective manner.

The order for the applicants to leave the country had been liable to be enforced at any time by the Belgian authorities, and the application to set aside and the request for suspension of the measure lodged by the applicants did not have suspensive effect. The Court observed in particular that the lack of suspensive effect had resulted in the material support granted to the applicants being
withdrawn and had forced them to return to their country of origin without their fears of a possible violation of Article 3 having been examined. The Court also noted that the length of the proceedings concerning the application to set aside had been unsatisfactory, given that the Aliens Appeals Board had not delivered its judgment until 29 November 2011, after the applicants had left for Serbia, thereby effectively depriving them of the opportunity to continue the proceedings in Belgium and France. Accordingly, since the applicants had not had an effective remedy, there had been a violation of Article 13 taken in conjunction with Article 3.

From Court’s press release: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/webservices/content/pdf/003-5127554-6327501

Effectiveness of French asylum system again questioned in Sudanese asylum seeker cases

In today’s two ECtHR judgments, in the cases of A.A. v. France and A.F. v. France, the ECtHR held, unanimously, that there would be a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the ECHR if the applicants were deported to Sudan.

The cases concerned proceedings to deport to Sudan two Sudanese nationals – A.A., from a non-
Arab tribe in Darfur, and A.F., from South Darfur and of Tunjur ethnicity – who had arrived in France
in 2010.

With regard to the general context, the Court had recently observed that the human-rights situation
in Sudan was alarming, in particular where political opponents were concerned, and that merely
belonging to a non-Arab ethnic group in Darfur gave rise to a risk of persecution. The Court noted
that the situation had deteriorated further since the beginning of 2014.

The Court found in both cases, that included rejections of the applicants’ asylum applications by the French authorities, that were the orders to deport the applicants to Sudan to be enforced, the applicants would, on account of their individual circumstances, run a serious risk of incurring treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention.

Court’s press release:
http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/webservices/content/pdf/003-4982529-6110158

Italy’s refugee family reception infrastructure considered untrustworthy

Tarakhel v. Switzerland, GC judgment of 4 November 2014

The Court considered it appropriate to examine the complaint concerning the applicants’ reception conditions in Italy solely from the standpoint of Article 3.

Concerning the overall situation of the reception arrangements for asylum seekers in Italy, the Court
had previously observed that the Recommendations of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”) and the report of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, both published in 2012, referred to a number of failings. Without entering into the debate as to the exact number of asylum seekers without accommodation in Italy, the Court noted the glaring discrepancy between the number of asylum applications made in 2013 (over 14,000) and the number of places available in the facilities belonging to the SPRAR network [Sistema di protezione per richiedenti asilo e rifugiati] (9,630 places).

With regard to living conditions in the available facilities, the Court noted that in its Recommendations for 2013 UNHCR had described a number of problems. However, UNHCR had not
reported situations of widespread violence or insalubrious conditions, and had stressed the efforts
undertaken by the Italian authorities to improve reception conditions for asylum seekers. The
Human Rights Commissioner, in his 2012 report, had noted the existence of some problems with
regard to legal aid, care and psychological assistance in the emergency reception centres, the time
taken to identify vulnerable persons and the preservation of family unity during transfers.

The Court reiterated that, as a “particularly underprivileged and vulnerable” population group,
asylum seekers required “special protection” under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human
Rights. This requirement of “special protection” of asylum seekers was particularly important when
the persons concerned were children, even when they were accompanied by their parents

In view of the current situation of the reception system in Italy, the possibility that a significant
number of asylum seekers removed to that country might be left without accommodation or might
be accommodated in overcrowded facilities, in insalubrious and violent conditions, was not
unfounded. The Swiss authorities were obliged to obtain assurances from their Italian counterparts
that on their arrival in Italy the applicants would be received in facilities and in conditions adapted to the age of the children, and that the family would be kept together.

The Court noted that, according to the Italian Government, families with children were regarded as a
particularly vulnerable category and were normally taken charge of within the SPRAR network.
However, the Italian Government had not provided any further details on the specific conditions in
which the authorities would take charge of the applicants.

Without detailed and reliable information about the specific reception facility to which the
applicants would be sent, the physical conditions of their accommodation, and the question of
whether the family would be kept together, the Court considered that the Swiss authorities did not
have sufficient assurances that, if returned to Italy, the applicants would be taken charge of in a
manner adapted to the age of the children.

Were the Swiss authorities to send the applicants back to Italy without having first obtained
individual guarantees from the Italian authorities that they would be taken charge of in a manner
adapted to the age of the children and that the family would be kept together, there would
accordingly be a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

Court’s press release: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/webservices/content/pdf/003-4923136-6025044

Serious dysfunctions in French asylum and immigration system highlighted in recent paper

A paper issued on 20 September by the Avocats pour la Défense des Droits des Etrangers highlights a number of serious dysfunctions in the French immigration and asylum system focusing on:

  • La rétention administrative des enfants et de leurs parents
  • La  procédure d’asile dite prioritaire
  • La zone d’attente
  • L’évitement du juge du contrôle des interpellations de police et de la privation de liberté préalable à la rétention administrative
  • Les étrangers malades et les mineurs isolés
  • L’interdiction du territoire européen
  • La remise en cause systématique des liens familiaux
  • Les attaques répétées à l’égard des avocats en matière de droit des étrangers.
Link:

High numbers of Western Balkan asylum applicants in the EU

The data contained in the latest report by EASO on asylum developments in 2013 are interesting for highlighting two issues:

1. The situation on the ground in Western Balkan states appears to continue to force a significant number of persons (primarily Roma) to migrate to the “west”:

When considered together, in 2013 applications from nationals of Western Balkans countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia), once again represented the most signifi¬cant group of asylum applicants in the EU28, with 72 840 total asylum applicants (or 17 % of all applicants in the EU28) and a 36 % rise resulting from strong increases in the number of applicants from Kosovo and Albania, but also moderate growth of applicants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM and Serbia.

2. Applying for and being granted int’l protection in the EU continue to appear to be a “lottery” (far from the aim of a “common European asylum system”):

While at the overall EU28 level the recognition rate for applicants from Western Balkan countries remained very low, in a few MS it was relatively high. In Italy, the recognition rate was much higher than the EU28 average for each of the six WB countries, with an overall protection rate for the region of 46 %.

Report:

http://easo.europa.eu/wp-content/uploads/EASO-AR-final.pdf – Section 2.8.3

Problem of “swiftness” and non suspension of removal reemerged in asylum case of W Saharans in Spain

A.C. and others v. Spain, 22 April 2014

“…a) Principes généraux applicables

81.Les principes généraux relatifs à l’effectivité des recours et des garanties fournies par les États contractants en cas d’expulsion d’un demandeur d’asile en vertu des articles 13 et 3 combinés de la Convention sont résumés dans l’arrêt M.S.S. c.Belgique et Grèce [GC], no30696/09, §§286-293, CEDH 2011).

82.La Cour réitère les principes inhérents à l’article 13 de la Convention, qui garantit l’existence en droit interne d’un recours permettant de se prévaloir des droits et libertés de la Convention tels qu’ils y sont consacrés. Cette disposition a donc pour conséquence d’exiger un recours interne habilitant à examiner le contenu d’un « grief défendable » fondé sur la Convention et à offrir le redressement approprié. La portée de l’obligation que l’article 13 fait peser sur les États contractants varie en fonction de la nature du grief du requérant. Toutefois, le recours exigé par l’article 13 doit être « effectif » en pratique comme en droit (Kudła c.Pologne [GC], no30210/96, § 157, CEDH 2000XI, et M.S.S. c.Belgique et Grèce, précité, § 288).

83.Dans cet arrêt M.S.S., la Cour a d’abord rappelé le caractère subsidiaire que revêt, par rapport aux systèmes nationaux, le mécanisme de plainte devant elle, puisqu’elle se garde d’examiner ellemême les demandes d’asile ou de contrôler la manière dont les États remplissent leurs obligations découlant de la Convention de Genève. Sa préoccupation essentielle est de savoir s’il existe des garanties effectives qui protègent le requérant contre un refoulement arbitraire vers le pays qu’il a fui (§§ 286 et287).

84.La Cour reconnaît une marge d’appréciation aux États contractants, en ce que «l’effectivité d’un recours au sens de l’article 13 ne dépend pas de la certitude d’une issue favorable pour le requérant. De même, l’«instance» dont parle cette disposition n’a pas besoin d’être une institution judiciaire, mais alors ses pouvoirs et les garanties qu’elle présente entrent en ligne de compte pour apprécier l’effectivité du recours s’exerçant devant elle. En outre, l’ensemble des recours offerts par le droit interne peut remplir les exigences de l’article 13 même si aucun d’eux n’y répond en entier à lui seul» (Gebremedhin [Gaberamadhien] c. France, no25389/05, § 53, CEDH 2007II, M.S.S. c.Belgique et Grèce, précité, §289 et I.M. c.France, précité, §129).

85.En revanche, l’effectivité commande des exigences d’accessibilité et de réalité: pour être effectif, le recours exigé par l’article 13 doit être disponible en droit comme en pratique, en ce sens particulièrement que son exercice ne doit pas être entravé de manière injustifiée par les actes ou omissions des autorités de l’État défendeur (Çakıcı c. Turquie [GC], no23657/94, § 112, CEDH 1999IV, et M.S.S. c. Belgique et Grèce, précité, §290).

86.Dans son examen des recours ouverts aux demandeurs d’asile en Grèce, la Cour a également réaffirmé que l’accessibilité en pratique d’un recours est déterminante pour évaluer son effectivité (M.S.S. c. Belgique et Grèce, précité, § 318).

87.Par ailleurs, l’effectivité implique des exigences en termes de qualité, de rapidité et d’effet suspensif, compte tenu en particulier de l’importance que la Cour attache à l’article 3 et de la nature irréversible du dommage susceptible d’être causé en cas de réalisation du risque de torture ou de mauvais traitements. Ainsi, «l’article 13 exige un recours interne habilitant à examiner le contenu du grief et à offrir le redressement approprié, même si les États jouissent d’une certaine marge d’appréciation quant à la manière de se conformer aux obligations que leur impose cette disposition» (Jabari, précité).

88.L’effectivité d’un recours au sens de l’article 13 demande impérativement un contrôle attentif par une autorité nationale (Chamaïev et autres c. Géorgie et Russie, no36378/02, § 448, CEDH 2005III), un examen indépendant et rigoureux de tout grief aux termes duquel il existe des motifs de croire à un risque de traitement contraire à l’article 3 (Jabari, précité, § 50) ainsi qu’une célérité particulière (Batı et autres c. Turquie, nos33097/96 et 57834/00, § 136, CEDH 2004‑IV (extraits), De Souza Ribeiro c. France [GC], no22689/07, § 82,CEDH 2012). Par ailleurs, compte tenu de la nature irréversible du dommage susceptible d’être causé en cas de réalisation d’un risque de torture ou de mauvais traitements, la notion de recours effectif au sens de l’article 13 requiert la possibilité de faire surseoir à l’exécution d’une mesure d’expulsion (Jabari, précité, § 50). La Cour a en effet estimé qu’en matière d’éloignement du territoire, un recours dépourvu d’effet suspensif automatique ne satisfaisait pas aux conditions d’effectivité requises par l’article 13 de la Convention (Čonka, précité, §83, Sultani c.France, no45223/05, § 50, CEDH 2007IV (extraits), Gebremedhin, précité, § 66, Hirsi Jamaa et autres c. Italie [GC], no27765/09, § 200, CEDH 2012, M.S.S. c. Belgique et Grèce, précité, §§290 à 293, De Souza Ribeiro, précité, § 82). A plus forte raison, les mêmes principes s’appliquent lorsque l’expulsion expose le requérant à un risque réel d’atteinte à son droit à la vie, protégé par l’article 2 de la Convention.

89.Une attention particulière doit être prêtée à la rapidité du recours luimême puisqu’il n’est pas exclu que la durée excessive d’un recours le rende inadéquat (Doran c. Irlande, no50389/99, § 57, CEDH 2003-X).

b)Application en l’espèce des principes susmentionnés

90.La Cour relève que la question qui se pose en l’espèce est celle de l’effectivité des recours exercés par les requérants, visés par une mesure d’éloignement, pour faire valoir leurs griefs tirés des articles 2 et 3 de la Convention. Si l’accès à ces voies de recours n’est pas en cause en tant que tel, le fait qu’elles n’aient été assorties d’un effet suspensif que pendant une durée limitée, et non jusqu’à la décision définitive sur le bien-fondé des demandes de protection internationale, est susceptible de porter atteinte à leur effectivité.

91.À cet égard, la Cour estime nécessaire de souligner qu’en ce qui concerne les requêtes relatives à l’asile et à l’immigration, telles que celles des requérants, elle se consacre et se limite, dans le respect du principe de subsidiarité, à évaluer l’effectivité des procédures nationales et à s’assurer que ces procédures fonctionnent dans le respect des droits de l’homme (M.S.S. c. Belgique et Grèce, précité, §§286 et 287).

92.Dans les présentes affaires, la Cour relève que le fait que les juridictions internes poursuivent à ce jour l’examen des demandes de protection internationale présentées par les requérants ne permet pas de conclure au caractère non défendable de leurs griefs.

93.Cela dit, en l’occurrence, la Cour n’a pas à se prononcer sur la violation de ces dispositions si les requérants devaient être expulsés. Il appartient en effet en premier lieu aux autorités espagnoles, responsables en matière d’asile, d’examiner elles-mêmes les demandes des requérants ainsi que les documents produits par lui et d’évaluer les risques qu’ils encourent au Maroc. La préoccupation essentielle de la Cour est de savoir s’il existe en l’espèce des garanties effectives qui protègent les requérants contre un refoulement arbitraire, direct ou indirect, vers leur pays d’origine (M.S.S. c.Belgique et Grèce, précité, §298), dès lors que les recours sur le fond des requérants sont pendants devant les juridictions nationales.

94.On ne saurait exclure que, dans un système où la suspension est accordée sur demande, au cas par cas, elle puisse être incorrectement refusée, notamment s’il devait s’avérer ultérieurement que l’instance statuant au fond doive quand même annuler la décision d’expulsion litigieuse pour non-respect de la Convention, par exemple parce que l’intéressé aurait subi des mauvais traitements dans le pays de destination. En pareil cas, le recours exercé par l’intéressé n’aurait pas présenté l’effectivité voulue par l’article 13 (Čonka, précité, § 82). Dans ce contexte, l’exception du Gouvernement selon laquelle les requérants n’ont pas épuisé les voies de recours internes doit être rejetée. La Cour rappelle à cet égard que lorsqu’un individu se plaint de manière défendable que son renvoi l’exposerait à un traitement contraire à l’article 3 de la Convention, les recours sans effet suspensif ne peuvent être considérés comme effectifs au sens de l’article 35 § 1 de la Convention.

95.Il convient de souligner que les exigences de l’article 13, tout comme celles des autres dispositions de la Convention, sont de l’ordre de la garantie, et non du simple bon vouloir ou de l’arrangement pratique. C’est là une des conséquences de la prééminence du droit, l’un des principes fondamentaux d’une société démocratique inhérents à l’ensemble des articles de la Convention (voir, mutatis mutandis, Iatridis c. Grèce [GC], no31107/96, § 58, CEDH 1999II).

96.En l’espèce, la Cour observe que les requérants ont exercé les voies de recours disponibles dans le système espagnol pour faire valoir leurs griefs tirés des articles 2 et 3 de la Convention : ils ont déposé des demandes de protection internationale auprès de l’Office de l’asile et des réfugiés du ministère de l’Intérieur, qui furent rejetées, tout comme leurs demandes de réexamen. Les requérants présentèrent par la suite des recours de contentieux administratif contre les décisions leur faisant tort, en demandant en même temps la suspension de l’exécution de la mesure d’expulsion, sur la base de l’article 135 de la loi no29/1998 du 13 juillet 1998 sur la juridiction du contentieux administratif.

97.Les craintes exprimées par les requérants relatives à des mauvais traitements susceptibles de leur être infligés en cas de retour dans leur pays d’origine ne sont pas, à première vue et sans aucunement préjuger l’appréciation des juridictions espagnoles quant à leur bien-fondé, irrationnelles ou manifestement dépourvues de fondement, tant en raison de la situation générale au Maroc dérivée du démantèlement du campement de Gdeim Izik au Sahara occidental (paragraphes 47 à 59 ci-dessus) que des situations particulières alléguées par les requérants.

98.Bien que les autorités espagnoles soient les seules compétentes pour se prononcer en dernier ressort sur l’existence ou non des motifs pouvant faire obstacle aux expulsions décrétées à l’égard des requérants, l’on ne saurait exclure qu’il existe suffisamment d’éléments pour surseoir à l’exécution des décision prises par l’Administration tant que les juridictions internes n’ont pas examiné de façon détaillée et en profondeur le bien-fondé des demandes de protection internationale présentées par les requérants. Certes, la Cour est consciente de la nécessité pour les États confrontés à un grand nombre de demandeurs d’asile de disposer des moyens nécessaires pour faire face à un tel contentieux, ainsi que des risques d’engorgement du système.

99.La Cour reconnaît que les procédures d’asile accélérées, dont se sont dotés de nombreux États européens, peuvent faciliter le traitement des demandes clairement abusives ou manifestement infondées. Elle a d’ailleurs déjà eu l’occasion d’estimer que le réexamen d’une demande d’asile selon le mode prioritaire ne privait pas l’étranger en rétention d’un examen circonstancié dès lors qu’une première demande avait fait l’objet d’un examen complet dans le cadre d’une procédure d’asile normale (Sultani c.France, no 45223/05, §§ 64-65, CEDH 2007IV (extraits)). En l’espèce, se penchant tout particulièrement sur le cas des treize premiers requérants exposé au paragraphe 44 ci-dessus, la Cour observe toutefois que l’Audiencia Nacional avaitordonné le 27 janvier 2011 à l’Administration de surseoir provisoirement aux expulsions, le temps d’examiner les demandes de mesures provisoires présentées. Le lendemain, l’Audiencia Nacional décida toutefois de rejeter lesdites demandes de suspension des ordres d’expulsion pris à l’encontre desdits requérants, considérant que les moyens formulés à l’appui de leurs recours ne permettaient de conclure ni à l’existence dans leur chef de situations d’urgence spéciale susceptibles de justifier une suspension de toute expulsion du territoire national ni à la perte d’objet de la procédure au fond en cas d’exécution des mesures d’expulsion en cause.

100.La Cour constate qu’en l’espèce le caractère accéléré de la procédure n’a pas permis aux requérants d’apporter des précisions sur ces points, dans le cadre de leur seule possibilité de surseoir aux expulsions, la procédure quant au bien-fondé n’ayant pas en soi de caractère suspensif. Si la Cour reconnaît l’importance de la rapidité des recours, elle considère que celle-ci ne devrait pas être privilégiée aux dépens de l’effectivité de garanties procédurales essentielles visant à protéger les requérants contre un refoulement vers le Maroc (I.M. c. France, précité, §§147).

101.Elle souligne que seule l’application de l’article 39 de son règlement a pu suspendre l’éloignement des requérants. En effet, à la suite du rejet de leurs demandes de mesures provisoires devant l’Audiencia Nacional, rien ne pouvait plus faire obstacle à la mise à exécution de leur éloignement.

102.Si l’effectivité des recours au sens de l’article 13 de la Convention ne dépend certes pas de la certitude d’une issue favorable pour le requérant, la Cour ne peut manquer d’observer que, sans son intervention, les requérants auraient été refoulés vers le Maroc sans que le bien-fondé de leurs recours ait fait l’objet d’un examen aussi rigoureux et rapide que possible (voir, mutatis mutandis, M.S.S. c. Belgique et Grèce, précité, §388), les recours du contentieux administratif qu’ils avaient déposés n’ayant pas, en tant que tels, d’effet suspensif automatique susceptible de surseoir à l’exécution des ordres d’expulsion prononcés à leur encontre.

103.En outre, la Cour constate que les requérants sont arrivés en Espagne entre janvier 2011 et aout 2012 et que, depuis, ils ont été dans une situation provisoire d’incertitude juridique et de précarité matérielle dans l’attente des décisions définitives sur leurs recours. Nul doute qu’une exigence de célérité et de diligence raisonnables est implicite dans ce contexte et qu’il n’est pas exclu que la durée excessive d’une procédure puisse la rendre inadéquate. La Cour estime que dès lors qu’un recours n’a pas d’effet suspensif ou que la demande de suspension est rejetée, il est essentiel que dans les affaires d’expulsion où sont en cause les articles2 et 3 de la Convention et lorsque la Cour a fait application de l’article39 de son règlement, les juridictions fassent preuve d’une diligence de célérité particulière et statuent sur le fond dans des délais rapides. Si tel n’était pas le cas, les recours perdraient leur efficacité.

104.La Cour est consciente de la nécessité pour les États confrontés à un grand nombre de demandeurs d’asile de disposer des moyens nécessaires pour faire face à un tel contentieux, ainsi que des risques d’engorgement du système. Toutefois, tout comme l’article 6 de la Convention, l’article 13 astreint les États contractants à organiser leurs juridictions de manière à leur permettre de répondre aux exigences de cette disposition (voir, mutatis mutandis, Süßmann c. Allemagne, 16septembre 1996, Recueil des arrêts et décisions 1996-IV, § 55).

105.En conclusion, les requérants ne disposaient pas d’un recours remplissant les conditions de l’article 13 pour faire valoir leurs griefs tirés des articles 2 et 3 de la Convention. Dès lors, il y a eu violation de l’article13 de la Convention combiné avec les articles 2 et 3.

Political activism in host country and fear of ill-treatment in case of return to Sudan

A.A. v. Switzerland, 07 January 2014

“38. As established in the Court’s case-law, Contracting States have the right as a matter of international law and subject to their treaty obligations, including the Convention, to control the entry, residence and expulsion of aliens (see Üner v. the Netherlands [GC], no. 46410/99, § 54, ECHR 2006‑XII). Expulsion by a Contracting State may however give rise to an issue under Article 3, and hence engage the responsibility of that State under the Convention, where substantial grounds have been shown for believing that the person concerned, if deported, faces a real risk of being subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3. In such a case, Article 3 implies an obligation not to deport the person in question to that country (see Saadi v. Italy [GC], no. 37201/06, § 125, ECHR 2008).

39. As established in the case of Mohammed v. Austria (no. 2283/12, § 109, 6 June 2013) the security and human rights situation in Sudan is alarming. Country reports further indicate that the situation has even deteriorated in the last few months (see paragraphs 20-28 above). However, while the Court has never ruled out the possibility of a situation of general violence in a country of origin triggering the application, and subsequently a breach of Article 3 upon the deportation of an applicant to the said country, it has also held that such an approach would only be adopted in the most extreme cases. It has generally insisted that an applicant shows that special distinguishing features existed in his case that could or ought to have enabled the Contracting State’s authorities to foresee that he or she would be treated in a manner incompatible with Article 3 (see, mutatis mutandis, NA. v. the United Kingdom, no. 25904/07, §§ 114-115, 17 July 2008).

40. With regard to the situation of political opponents of the Sudanese government, the Court nevertheless holds that the situation is very precarious. From the Country reports and the relevant case law above (see paragraphs 20-30), it is evident that suspected members of the SPLM-North, members of other opposition parties, civil society leaders and journalists are frequently harassed, arrested, beaten, tortured and prosecuted by the Sudanese authorities. Because of the ongoing war in different states, the SPLM-North has been banned by the Sudanese government and accordingly many people were detained because of their real or perceived links with that organisation. Furthermore, not only leaders of political organisations or other high-profile people are at risk of being detained, ill-treated and tortured in Sudan, but anyone who opposes or is only suspected of opposing the current regime. Moreover, it has been acknowledged that the Sudanese government monitors activities of political opponents abroad.

41. In the applicant’s case, the Court notes that he has been a member of the SLM-Unity in Switzerland for several years. The Government however disputed the genuineness of his activities. In this regard, the Court acknowledges that it is generally very difficult to assess in cases regarding sur place activities whether a person is genuinely interested in the political cause or has only become involved in it in order to create post-flight grounds. In similar cases, the Court has therefore taken into account factors such as whether the applicant was a political activist prior to fleeing his home country, and whether he played an active role in making his asylum case known to the public in the respondent State (see S.F. and Others v. Sweden, no. 52077/10, §§ 66-67, 15 May 2012, and N. v. Finland, no. 38885/02, § 165, 26 July 2005). In the present case, the Court however also has regard to the fact that the applicant joined the SLM-Unity in Switzerland several years before he launched his second asylum request, at a time when it still might not have been foreseeable for him to apply for asylum in Switzerland a second time. In view of the importance which the Court attaches to Article 3 of the Convention as set out above (see paragraph 38), and the irreversible nature of the damage which results if the risk of torture or ill-treatment materialises, the Court therefore prefers to assess the applicant’s claim on the grounds of the political activities he effectively carried out.

42. In this regard, the Court considers that the applicant’s political activities have increased in importance over time, as illustrated by his appointment as human rights officer of the SLM-Unity in Switzerland and his participation in international meetings on the human rights situation in Sudan. The Court however agrees with the Government insofar as the applicant’s political profile had not been very exposed. He had not, for example, delivered any talks in those conferences, and in the interview broadcast on the TV channel in Eastern Switzerland, he had not mentioned his political activities. The Court therefore considers that if the applicant were to be expelled to a country where the human rights situation of political opponents was less worrying than in Sudan, he would, on account of his political activities, not be exposed to a risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention.

43. However, as set out above (see paragraph 40), not only leaders and high-profile people, but also those merely suspected of supporting opposition movements are at risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention in Sudan. In the case of politically involved Sudanese nationals abroad, in particular those who had been seen to be affiliated with the SLM at the international meetings in Geneva, it has furthermore been established that they had been registered by the Sudanese authorities (see paragraph 30 above). In view of the applicant’s participation in the international human right meetings, where representatives of the Sudanese government were present and where usually only a few citizens of one country participate so that they are relatively easily identifiable, as well the applicant’s argument with the current Sudanese president’s brother, the Court cannot therefore rule out that he, as an individual, attracted the Sudanese government’s attention. Having also participated in some of those meetings on behalf of the SLM-Unity Switzerland, the Court believes that the applicant might, at least, be suspected of being affiliated with an opposition movement by the Sudanese government. It therefore finds that there are substantial grounds for believing that he might be known to the Sudanese government and would be at risk of being detained, interrogated and tortured as soon as he arrived at the airport in Sudan. Moreover, he would not have the opportunity to relocate. Accordingly, the Court finds that the implementation of the deportation order against the applicant would give rise to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.”

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Human Rights centre blog

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Völkerrechtsblog

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blogdroiteuropéen

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All for National Archaeological Museum Athens

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East Ethnia

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