Greece - Appeal Committee of Vyronas, 23 April 2013, Application No. 4/1188365

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
23-04-2013
Citation:
Application No. 4/1188365
Court Name:
Appeal Committee of Vyronas
Relevant Legislative Provisions:
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
Greece - Σύμβαση της Γενεύης 1951 Νομοθετικό Διάταγμα 3989/1959 (Geneva Convention 1951 Legislative Decree)
Greece - Προεδρικό Διάταγμα 96/2008 (Presidential Decree)
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 114/2010 entitled 'Refugee status: single procedure for foreigners and stateless persons'
Greece - Κώδικα Διοικητικής Διαδικασίας (νόμος 2690/ 1999) (Administrative Procedure Code)
Greece - Minister for Citizen Protection No. 5401/3-505553
Greece - Minister for Citizen Protection No. 4000/1/70-a (Gov. 1725/2.8.2011 B)
Greece - Law 3068/2002 - Article 15
Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons 2000 - Art 3
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Headnote: 

This case concerned forced child labour in ther country of origin and sexual exploitation of the daughter of an Ethiopian father and an Eritrean mother, strained relations between the two countries, mass expulsions on the basis of ethnic origin, absence of a family network in the country of origin, total illiteracy, unequal treatment of single women, and an inability to integrate into society.

In relation to the absence of a family network, the case considered the stigma which may be suffered as a member of the particular social group of “single women in Ethiopia”.

Should she return to Ethiopia, it was considered likely that the Applicant would be totally ostracised to such an extent that she would be unable to integrate into society and enjoy her legal rights.

Facts: 

The Applicant was an Ethiopian citizen and her mother's ethnic origin was Eritrean, because of which she was expelled from Ethiopia with her ​​two daughters when the Applicant was 6 months old. After her mother's death a neighbouring family took charge of her care and took her to Sudan with them, and she had not seen her sister since then. She worked as a maid for the family, looking after their grandchildren, without being paid or provided with health care, and she was forbidden to leave the house. She was not given any education and, therefore, was totally illiterate. During her teenage years she suffered sexual violence from the family's father, and the family's oldest son attempted to rape her. She was treated in a hospital-like institution and the family arranged to have her taken to Europe. She arrived in Greece with a group of people, without knowing where she was. She was homeless at first and since then she had occasionally been offered accommodation in various homes. She had no identity papers. She submitted an application for asylum on 21.9.2010 whilst she was in detention. This was examined in a fast-track procedure and was rejected by the Chief of Attica Immigration Department's decision 116149 – DKA [State Security Division] 04/1188365 of 29.10.2010. She then, on 5.1.2011, submitted an appeal against the negative decision. The Applicant appeared before the 2nd Committee on 17.1.2013 having been summoned by its president, accompanied only by an interpreter and not an advisor. The interview was not completed, partly because they ran out of time and partly because there was evidence that the Applicant was a victim of human trafficking. The Committee referred the Applicant to services offering assistance to victims of trafficking and asked her to appear again on 13.2.2013. She did this, and requested an adjournment due to the fact that her advisor was unavailable. The Committee accepted and asked her to appear before it again on 12.3.2013, and she attended on that date, accompanied by an advisor, to have her application examined.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Committee compared what the Applicant reported with reports by international organisations on the situation in Eritrea and Ethiopia and accepted them as true. It made extensive reference to the strained relations between the two countries and the persecution of citizens whose ethnic origins were from the opposing country. It went on to highlight the high levels of sexual and labour exploitation of young girls in the country of origin and their victimisation by human trafficking gangs.

The Committee held the the Applicant's many years of absence from the country of origin, the lack of a family network, and her transportation in the context of trafficking constituted the subjective element of fear. As for the objective element, the Committee took into consideration, in addition to the above, the way single women are treated in the country of origin, their risk of becoming victims of human trafficking, and the difficulty the Applicant would have in gaining recognition of her nationality by the authorities.

The Committee went on to assess the prospect of the Applicant being harmed by State actors. It particularly focussed on the social stigma the Applicant would suffer in her capacity as a single woman, especially given her past victimisation.  It also found that the Ethiopian State was unable to address social discrimination or physical attacks against women. Finally, it held that the absence of documentary evidence of her nationality would make it difficult for the Applicant to enjoy full legal rights.

In conclusion, as regards persecution, the Committee took into consideration forced labour, the cumulative effects of the various forms of discrimination which could make life in her country of residence intolerable, and also her gender. All of the above made the Applicant a member of the particular social group of “single women in Ethiopia”.

Outcome: 

Having verified the conditions, the Committee held that the appeal was substantially well-founded and it recognised the Applicant's refugee status.

Observations/Comments: 

Committee composed of:

Stamatios Georgoulis, President

Athina Simogolou, Regular member

Stergios Mitas, Regular member

Alexandra Baka, clerk

Case Law Cited: 

ECtHR - Rantsev v Cyprus and Russia (Application no. 25965/04)