ECtHR – Haghilo v. Cyprus, Application No. 47920/12, 26 March 2019

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Country of Applicant: 
Date of Decision: 
Haghilo v. Cyprus, Application No. 47920/12, 26 June 2019
Court Name: 
European Court of Human Rights (Third Section)

Detention in police stations, places that by their very nature are designed to accommodate people for very short durations, may amount to degrading and inhuman conditions under Art. 3 ECHR if protracted for a long time.

Detention of a person with a view to deportation is contrary to Art. 5 § 1 (f) if unlawful under the Convention or domestic law. 



The case concerns the Iranian citizen M. Haghilo, who was held in immigration detention from April 2011 to October 2012 by Cypriot authorities with a view to his deportation under domestic Aliens and Immigration law.

In April 2011, while in detention, the applicant applied for asylum. His application was ultimately dismissed in October 2011. In November 2011, the applicant lodged a habeas corpus application with the Supreme Court challenging the lawfulness of his detention owing to the length of his duration. At the end of the same month, pending the habeas corpus proceedings, the Aliens and Immigration Law was amended in transposition of Directive 2008/115 (the Return Directive). The revised national piece of legislation foresaw the possibility of extending detention beyond six months for a period that does not exceed a further twelve months if there was a lack of cooperation on the part of a third-country national.

In November 2011 the Minister of the Interior extended the applicant’s detention for up to eighteen months on the basis of the new Law. In December 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the applicant affirming that the detention exceeding the first six months had been unlawful under the EU Return Directive, which at that time had direct effect in domestic law. Following the domestic judgment in his favour, the applicant was immediately released, but he was then rearrested a few minutes later on the basis of new detention and deportation orders issued against him on the same grounds as the first ones.

The applicant brought an action before the Supreme Court (as first instance revisional jurisdiction) challenging the lawfulness of the new detention and deportation orders on the basis of which he had been arrested. His action was dismissed. In October 2012, the Ministry of the Interior decided to annul the deportation and detention orders as the applicant’s deportation had not been carried out within the above-mentioned eighteen-month time-limit. Therefore, the applicant was released. Over the total 18-months period of detention imposed in view of his intended deportation, the applicant was kept over 15 months at three different police stations.

Decision & Reasoning: 

Art. 3 ECHR - detention conditions


The Court rejected the Government’s objection that the applicant did not raise a complaint regarding the detention conditions before the Supreme Court. The procedures proposed by Cyprus could not be regarded as an effective remedy, as the domestic court’s jurisdiction is limited to duration-related complaints. The Court also rejected the preliminary objection that the applicant’s complaints regarding his detention at Famagusta Police station, the first place of detention, had been lodged out of the six-months limit under Art. 35 § 1 of the Convention, as that limit started from the cessation of detention at the last location, since all detention facilities were similar (police stations) and the conditions did not differ either.


The Court reiterated that in the context of deprivation of liberty, in order for it to fall under Article 3, the suffering and humiliation involved must, in any event, go beyond that inevitable element of suffering and humiliation connected with detention. Police stations and other similar establishments are by their nature designed to accommodate people for very short duration, making them inappropriate for the detention of people who are waiting for the application of an administrative measure, such as deportation.

Moreover, the Court emphasised that, according to reports, the existing police detention facilities in Cyprus were only suitable for accommodating detained persons for a maximum period of a few days. It noted in particular the lack of possibility for outdoor exercise, limited personal space in cells, as well as lack of natural light and fresh air. In view of these conditions and the significant duration of detention, the Court found the applicant was subject to degrading treatment prohibited by Art. 3 of the Convention.  

Art. 5 § 1 (f) ECHR - lawfulness of detention


The Court rejected the objection that the applicant’s complaints were inadmissible for failure to exhaust domestic remedies as far as they concerned the period of detention subsequent to the Supreme Court’s ruling in his favour. The Court pointed out that the applicant's successful habeas corpus application had been rendered ineffective since he was rearrested immediately after the release ordered by the judicial authority. The applicant could not be expected to lodge another identical habeas corpus application; the applicant’s choice to bring an action against the lawfulness of the new detention and deportation orders was reasonable and was the only avilable remedy at the time.


According to Art. 5 § 1 (f) of the Convention a person may be deprived of his liberty with a view to deportation. Nevertheless, the Court reiterated that any detention legitimate under Art. 5 of the Convention must be lawful, namely in conformity with the Convention and with national law. The domestic judicial authority (the Supreme Court) had already ruled that the period of detention exceeding the six-months limit was unlawful. The Court also remarked that the applicant was released following the ruling in his favour, but was immediately rearrested on the same legal grounds cited in the first detention order, namely with a view to his deportation. The Government itself admitted that there was no legal basis to do so. The Court found that this act violated Artilcle 5 (1) f ECHR.


Violation of Article 3 and 5 § 1 of the Convention.


This summary was written by Pietro Derossi, Italian lawyer working as researcher, reporter and editor for Migrantes Foundation on 'Vie di Fuga', a permanent observatory on refugees in Europe.

Case Law Cited: 

Seagal v. Cyprus, no. 50756/13, 26 April 2016

ECtHR - Micallef v. Malta [GC], no 17056/06, 15 October 2009

ECtHR - Aerts v Belgium (1998) 5 BHRC 382

ECtHR - Bozano v. France, Application No. 9990/82

ECtHR - Winterwerp v. the Netherlands, Application No. 6301/73

ECtHR - Scordino v. Italy (no. 1) [GC], Application No. 36813/97

ECtHR - Vlasov v. Russia, No. 78146/01 12 June 2008

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

ECtHR - Alimov v. Turkey, Application no. 14344/13, 6 September 2016

Muršić v. Croatia [GC], no. 7334/13, 20 October 2016

ECtHR - I.D. v. Moldova (no. 47203/06, §§ 27-31, 30 November 2010)

ECtHR - A.H. and J.K. v. Cyprus, nos. 41903/10 and 41911/10, 21 July 2015

ECtHR - Kane v. Cyprus, Application No. 33655/06

ECtHR - Neshkov and Others v. Bulgaria, nos. 36925/10, 21487/12, 72893/12, 73196/12, 77718/12 and 9717/13, 27 January 2015
Other sources cited: 

Domestic case law

  • Refaat Barquwi, habeas corpus application no. 131/2003 (2004) 1 CLR 2004, judgment of 12 January 2004
  • Essa Murad Khlaief, habeas corpus application no. 91/2003, (2003) 1 (C) CLR 1402
  • Mohammad Khosh Soruor, habeas corpus application no. 132/2011 (2011) 1 CLR 2170, 21 December 2011
  • Yuxian Wang, habeas corpus application no. 13/2012, (2012) 1 CLR 406, judgment of 15 March 2012
  • Zoran Todorovic, habeas corpus application no. 197/2013 (2013) 1 CLR 2578, 19 December 2013
  • Zoran Todorovic, habeas corpus application no. 2/2014, 2 February 2014


  • The 2012 and 2014 Reports of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the CPT”)
  • The Amnesty International Report concerning the detention of migrants and asylum-seekers in Cyprus, June 2012
  • The Report of the Ombudsman on her visit to Farmagusa police station, 3 October 2011
  • The Report of the Ombudsman on her visit to Paphos police station, 2 March 2015
Authentic Language: 
State Party: 
National / Other Legislative Provisions: 
Cyprus - The Aliens and Immigration Law of 1959 (Cap. 105): section 4
section 6(1)(k
section 12(1)(2)(5)
section 14 (6)
section 16
section 18 ΠΣΤ (4
section 19(1)(1)
Cyprus - Amending Law (of the Aliens and Immigration Law) no. 153(I)/2011
Cyprus - Refugee Law no. 6(1)/2000: Section 8
Cyprus - Law on the Establishment and Operation of the Administrative Court no. 131(I)/2015
Cyprus - Amending Law no. 106(I)/2016
Cyprus - Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus: Art. 155 § 4
Cyprus - Criminal Code (Cap. 154) : section 331
section 333
section 335
section 339
section 360
Law no. 83(I)/2011
Regulations no. 161/2011
Law on the Rights of Persons Arrested and Detained
no. 163(I)/2005