ECtHR- A.A. v. France, Application no. 18039/11, 15 April 2015

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Country of Applicant: 
Date of Decision: 
A.A. v. France, Application no. 18039/11, 15 April 2015
Court Name: 
European Court of Human Rights Fifth Chamber

The case examines the allegations of a Sudanese national- member of a non-Arab tribe in Sudan- that his deportation to that country would expose him to treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention because of his race and supposed links with the rebel movements in the country. 


The applicant is a Sudanese national, member of the“Birqid” tribe, a non-Arab tribe from Darfur. He claimed that one of his brothers joined the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of the main rebel movements existing in Darfur, and that he himself did not join the movement even though he shared the Movement’s ideas. He was allegedly physically tortured, abused and detained by members of the Janjaweed for supposed knowledge of and affiliation with the JEM. He left Sudan, travelling through several countries before arriving in France in October 2010. On 28 October 2010 he was arrested by the French authorities. One day after, he was issued with a removal order and placed in administrative detention, then released due to the absence of an appointment with the Sudanese consular authorities for the issuance of a travel pass. He was subsequently the subject of a dozen of arrests and was placed in police custody. On each occasion, he was released after a few hours. On March 15, 2011, the Prefect of Pas-de-Calais took on the basis of the previous decision of 29 October 2010, a new order determining Sudan as a country of return and ordering the applicant's detention. On 21 March 2011 he applied to the European Court of Human Rights for an interim measure, under Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court. On 6 June 2011, he lodged an application for asylum, which was subsequently rejected by both the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless People (OFPRA) and on appeal to the National Court of Asylum (CNDA).  

Decision & Reasoning: 

Referring in detail to case admissibility and the requirement that all domestic remedies have to be exhausted before the Court can deal with a case (Article 35 ECHR), the ECtHR noted that where a return decision is being appealed, Article 35 is usually fulfilled where the appeal has a suspensive effect (Y.P. and L.P. v. France) [42-46].

With regards to the inconsistencies in the applicant’s story underlined by the Government, the Court found that the applicant’s description of events in Sudan had remained consistent both before it and before the OFPRA and that only the chronology of events was different [54].

Making reference to the case A.A. v. Switzerland, the Court highlighted the alarming situation of human rights in Sudan especially concerning political opponents to the current regime, a situation that has become worse since the beginning of 2014[55].  It further mentioned international reports highlighting that individuals suspected of belonging to or supporting rebel movements continue to be arrested, detained and tortured by the Sudanese authorities [56].

Concerning the personal risks to the applicant, the Court acknowledged his risk of being persecuted on the one hand because he belonged to the non-Arab tribe of Birqid and on the other hand because of his supposed links with JEM [57]. Concerning his ties with the tribe of Birqid, the Court concluded that his belonging to an ethnic minority, victims of repeated persecution,  represented a primary risk factor [58]. With regards to his links with JEM, the Court was of the opinion that the imposed sentence by the Sudanese authorities reflected their conviction of his involvement in a rebellion despite his claims of the opposite [60]. As a consequence, the Court considered that in case of return to Sudan, the applicant would risk being treated contrary to Article 3 of the Convention [62].

With reference to the complaint of the applicant under Article 13 in conjunction with Article 3 that he did not have at his disposal an effective recourse against the decision declaring Sudan as a country of return, the Court noted that this recourse was deprived of suspensive effect. It also noted that such a decision is provided with a suspensive effect if presented together with the appeal against the expulsion decision. Taking into account that the applicant had at his disposal once in detention another suspensive appeal that he refrained from using, the Court rejected his complaint in compliance with Article 35 para 1 of the Convention [63-64].


Violation of Article 3 in case of deportation of the applicant to Sudan

Case Law Cited: 

Gautrin and others v. France, no. 21257/93 21258/93 21259/93 21260/93

Civet v. France, no. 29340/95

Menteş and others v. Turkey, no. 23186/94

ECtHR - Vernillo v. France, Application No. 11889/85

ECtHR - Dalia v. France, Application No. 26102/95

ECtHR - Aquilina v. Malta [GC], Application No. 25642/94

ECtHR - Y.P. and L.P. v. France, Application No. 32476/06

ECtHR - Bahaddar v The Netherlands (Application no. 25894/94)
Other sources cited: 

Human Rights Watch, Darfur: UN Should End Silence on Rights Abuses, 22 August 2014

UN Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, 15 April 2014

UN News Service, Darfur: UN official urges support for peace process amid unfolding ‘new dynamics’, 24 April 2014

United Kingdom Home Office, Country of Origin Information Report- Sudan, 11 September 2012

United Kingdom: Home Office, Operational Guidance Note: Sudan, August 2012

United States Department of State, 2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-Sudan, 27 February 2014

Amnesty International, Annual Report 2011





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