ECtHR- AL.K. v. Greece, Application no. 63542/11, 11 March 2015

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
Country of Applicant: 
Iran
Date of Decision: 
11-03-2015
Citation: 
ECtHR- AL.K. v. Greece, Application no. 63542/11, 11 March 2015
Court Name: 
European Court of Human Rights First Chamber
Headnote: 

The case examined the allegations of an Iranian national that his detention conditions at the border posts of Feres and Soufli resulted in a violation of Article 3 of the Convention (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment). It further examined whether the applicant’s living conditions after his release resulted in degrading treatment in violation of Article 3. 

Facts: 

The applicant, an Iranian national, entered Greece on 13 November 2010, and was arrested the next day by the police officers of the borders of Feres and then detained pending his expulsion.

On 20 November 2010, the Police director of Alexandroupoli ordered his expulsion and the continuation of his detention for a period not exceeding six months, on the grounds that he risked absconding. On 25 November 2010, he was transferred to Alexandroupoli where he applied for asylum.  On 17 January 2011, he unsuccessfully raised objections against his detention before the Administrative Court of Alexandroupoli.On an unspecified date, he was transferred to the border post of Soufli.

On 5 March 2011 his asylum application was rejected by the police direction of Orestiada. He was notified of this decision on 19 April 2011 and appealed against it on 20 April 2011.

He was released on 16 May 2011, two days after the period of six months provided by the law no. 3386/2005. After his release, the applicant lived as a homeless person, under precarious conditions.  On 5 December 2011, the authorities renewed his "receipt" for asylum for three months and not six months, despite the fact that he needed a card mentioning the latter duration of validity in order to obtain a tax identification number and a work permit or to be able to find a job.

The applicant complained of his detention conditions in Feres and Soufli border posts and of the situation of absolute destitution in which he found himself after his release. He further denounced the impossibility of an examination of his asylum claim within the legal time limit of three months starting from his detention, constituting violation of article 5 of the Convention.

Decision & Reasoning: 

Taking cue from CPT’s, UNHCR’s as well as the Greek Ombudsman’s reports on the detention conditions at Soufli and Ferres, the Court observed that the dire situation hadn’t changed since the examination of the cases A.F. v. Greece and B.M. v. Greece. Taking into account that the Greek Government did not present any argument to contradict these findings, the Court concluded that the applicant’s detention in Soufli and Ferres amounted to inhumane and degrading treatment in the sense of Article 3 of the Convention.

With regards to the conditions after release and referring to Tarakhel v. Switzerland (no 29217/12) and M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, the Court highlighted the vulnerability of asylum seekers and the lack of essential provisions leading to degrading and humiliating conditions in Greece. Concerning the present case, it concluded that the authorities did not properly take into account the vulnerability of the applicant as an asylum seeker and held them responsible, due to their passivity, for the conditions in which the applicant found himself, living on the street, destitute, without access to sanitation and not having any means for providing for his basic needs. It considered that such living conditions, combined with the prolonged uncertainty in which he stayed and the total lack of prospect of his situation improving, had reached the level of severity required by Article 3 of the Convention.

The Court further noted the difficulty associated with renewing the asylum “receipt” and the lack of practical use of a “pink card” given the lack of accommodation places and hurdles associated with the employment system.

 

With regards to both Article 5 and 13 the Court held that the applicant had not adhered to the 6 month time limit specified in the Rules of the Court and therefore rejected them in compliance with article 35 §§ 1 et 4 of the Convention.

Outcome: 

Violation of Article 3 (inhuman and degrading treatment) – as regards the applicant’s conditions of detention in Soufli and Feres border posts

 Violation of Article 3 (degrading treatment) – as regards the applicant’s living conditions after his release from detention.

Case Law Cited: 

ECtHR - Ananyev et al. Russia, Application Nos. 42525/07 and 60800/08

ECtHR - Riad and Idiab v. Belgium, Application Nos. 29787/03 and 29810/03

ECtHR - Peers v. Greece, Application No. 28524/95

ECtHR - Tabesh v. Greece, Application No. 8256/07

ECtHR - Kudla v Poland [GC], Application No. 30210/96

ECtHR - Barjamaj v. Greece, Application No 36657/11

Kalachnikov v. Russia (no. 47095/99)

Varnava and others v. Turkey [GC], nos16064/90, 16065/90, 16066/90, 16068/90, 16069/90, 16070/90, 16071/90, 16072/90 and 16073/90
Other sources cited: 

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT),Report to the Government of Greeceon the visit to Greece carried out by the CPT from 19 to 21 January 2011, 10 January 2012

Authentic Language: 
French
State Party: 
Greece
National / Other Legislative Provisions: 
Greece - Presidential Decree no 141/1991
Greece - Presidential Decree no 254/2004
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 114/2010 entitled 'Refugee status: single procedure for foreigners and stateless persons'
Greece - Law No. 3386/2005
Greece- Introductory Law of the Civil Code- Article 105