ECtHR - Amie and Others v. Bulgaria, Application No. 58149/08

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Country of Applicant: 
Date of Decision: 
Amie and Others v. Bulgaria (no. 58149/08)
Court Name: 
ECtHR Fourth Section
Relevant Legislative Provisions: 
International Law
International Law > 1951 Refugee Convention

The case concerns the unlawfulness of the detention pending expulsion for a total period of more than one year and eight months without effective judicial review of one of the applicants, Mr. Abas Amie (Articles 5 § 1, 5 § 4 of the ECHR); and an unlawful interference with the right to respect for family life, in breach of Article 8 of the ECHR, with respect to the other applicants, his family members.


The applicants are the members of a stateless family who were granted asylum in Bulgaria in 2001. In 2006, Mr. Mahmud Amie, the father, was placed in detention following an order for his expulsion on grounds that he was involved in terrorist activities and represented a serious threat for national security. He was released after three months and then placed in detention again from 2008 to 2010 pending enforcement of his expulsion. He was released after the Sofia Administrative Court reviewed his detention.

The applicants alleged, in particular, that the impending expulsion of the first applicant from Bulgaria would unlawfully and unduly interfere with their right to respect for their family life. The first applicant also alleged that his detention pending the enforcement of the order for his expulsion had been unlawful and too lengthy, and that he had been unable to obtain judicial review of that detention.

Decision & Reasoning: 

Violations of Articles 5 § 1 and 5 § 4.

 Mr. Amie's deportation could not justify the whole period of his detention due to the lack of a realistic prospect of his expulsion and the domestic authorities' failure to conduct the proceedings with due diligence.

The Court was unable to find that the domestic proceedings in Bulgaria complied with the requirements of Article 5 § 4, because the amount of time taken by the national courts finally to determine the legal challenge to the detention order cannot be regarded as complying with the requirement of that provision that the decision be taken “speedily”. Furthermore, the failure of the courts directly to order release could not be regarded as compliant with Article 5 § 4, because that provision requires a remedy in which the decision‑making body has the power to release the detainee.

Violation of Article 8.

The Court concluded that Mr. Mahmud Amie, despite having the formal possibility of seeking judicial review of the order for his expulsion, did not enjoy the minimum degree of protection against arbitrariness on the part of the authorities. The resulting interference with his right to respect for his family life would therefore not be in accordance with a “law” satisfying the requirements of the Convention.

 When reviewing the order for Mr. Amie's expulsion the Supreme Administrative Court did not carry out a genuine inquiry into the allegations of national security on which that order was based.

The Court also found that all the applicants had a family life in Bulgaria and that the expulsion of Mr. Mahmud Amie would constitute interference therewith.


Violation of Articles 5 § 1, 5 § 4 and 8 (should the order to expel Mr Abas Amie be put into effect) of the ECHR.

Just satisfaction: EUR 3,500 (non-pecuniary damage) to Mr Abas Amie and EUR 1,000 (costs and expenses) jointly to all applicants

Subsequent Proceedings : 



The applicants are the members of a stateless family who were granted asylum in Bulgaria, except for Abas Mahmud Amie, who acquired Bulgarian nationality by being born in the country.

The Bulgarian Government requested the Court to restrict public access to the documents in the case file under Rule 33 §§ 1 and 2 of the Rules of the ECtHR. The President of the Fourth Section of the ECtHR acceded to their request, but only in so far as it concerned the three documents specified by the Government.

The 1951 Refugee Convention Came into force in Bulgaria on 10 August 1993.


Case Law Cited: 

ECtHR - Gavril Yosifov v. Bulgaria, Application No. 74012/01

ECtHR - Mamatkulov Askarov v Turkey, Applications nos. 46827/99 and 46951/99

ECtHR - Case of Saadi v United Kingdom (Application no.13229/03) - (UP)

ECtHR - Al-Nashif v Bulgaria (2003) (Application no. 50963/99)

Bulgaria - Supreme Administrative Court, 27 May 2010, опр. № 6983 адм. д. № 2724/2010 г., ВАС, VIIо.

Bulgaria - Supreme Administrative Court, 8 July 2010, опр. № 9523 адм. д. № 5761/2010 г., ВАС, VIIо

CJEU - C‑357/09, Saïd Shamilovich Kadzoev

ECtHR - A. and Others v. the United Kingdom [GC], Application No. 3455/05

ECtHR - Slivenko v. Latvia [GC], Application No. 48321/99

ECtHR - Sadaykov v. Bulgaria, Application No. 75157/01

ECtHR - Raza v. Bulgaria, Application No. 31465/08

ECtHR - Mikolenko v. Estonia, Application No. 10664/05

ECtHR - Amuur v. France, Application No. 19776/92

ECtHR - Lupsa v. Romania, Application No. 10337/04

ECtHR - Abdolkhani and Karimnia v. Turkey, Application No. 30471/08

ECtHR - Benham v. U.K., Application No. 19380/92

ECtHR - Steel and others v. U.K., Application No.67/1997/851/1058

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

ECtHR - Louled Massoud v. Malta, Application No. 24340/08

ECtHR - Bogdanovski v. Italy, Application No. 72177/01

ECtHR - Mooren v. Germany [GC], Application No. 11364/03

ECtHR - Rahmani and Dineva v. Bulgaria, Applicaton No. 20116/08

ECtHR - Kadem v. Malta, Application No. 55263/00

ECtHR - M. and Others v. Bulgaria, Application No. 41416/08

ECtHR - Kaushal and Others v. Bulgaria, Application No. 1537/08

ECtHR - Madah and Others v. Bulgaria, Application No. 45237/08

ECtHR - Liu v. Russia (no. 2), Application No. 29157/09
Other sources cited: 

Article 27 of the Bulgarian Constitution; the Bulgarian Asylum and Refugees Act 2002; the Bulgarian Aliens Act 1998.

A “Note on Expulsion of Refugees”, published up by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on 24 August 1977 (EC/SCP/3)

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