ECtHR - Babajanov v. Turkey, 49867/08, 10 May 2016

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Country of Applicant: 
Date of Decision: 
Babajanov v. Turkey, 49867/08, 10 May 2016
Court Name: 
European Court of Human Rights (Second Section)

An Uzbeck national who had fled to Turkey was deported to Iran which constituted a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. He then returned to Turkey and lives in hiding for fear of deportation. 


The applicant was born in 1975 and lives in Turkey. In 1999 the applicant fled from Uzbekistan to Tajikistan because of pressure from the police, who suspected him of anti-constitutional activities in connection with his alleged Islamic religious beliefs and practices.

From Tajikistan, the applicant went on to Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2005 he arrived in Iran, where he settled in Zahedan. He lived in Zahedan for two years until he decided to flee because of deportation threats.

On 18 November 2007 the applicant entered Turkey illegally through Van and went to Ankara to apply for refugee status at the UNHCR. Following a preliminary interview, the applicant was referred to the UNHCR office in Van. The Van office issued him with an asylum seeker certificate and temporary residence until 2008. However, during one of his routine visits to the Van police department the applicant and other Uzbecks were driven to the border and forcibly deported to Iran. The applicant was allegedly ill-treated and threatened by the police during deportation. They were then captured by people smugglers and held to ransom. Once the ransom was paid they re-entered Turkey illegally where they returned to Van.

On 11 October 2008 a number of Uzbek asylum seekers, who had previously been deported to Iran on 12 September 2008, were collected from their homes by police officers from the Van police headquarters. The same evening, they were deported to Iran once again. The applicant, however, escaped this deportation by pure chance, as the police did not have his correct home address.

The deportation of the applicant and other Uzbecks was met with considerable international condemnation. The UNHCR in Ankara requested the Turkish authorities to take measures to grant the applicant a residence permit but the applicant has been living in Turkey in hiding since 2008 and his application for refugee status under the mandate of the UNHCR is still on hold.

The applicant cannot approach the Turkish authorities to apply for asylum for fear of deportation.  Moreover, he cannot appoint a lawyer to undertake his legal proceedings because he does not possess the necessary identity documents.

The Turkish government refutes claims that he had informed authorities that he had been granted refugee status in Iran upon his arrival in Turkey. They claim he left Van for a period of 6 months despite having been told to remain there and therefore had to repeat an asylum claim.

He was subsequently deported to Iran, a safe third country, where he was recognised as a refugee by the UNHCR. 

Decision & Reasoning: 

Firstly, the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the applicant’s deportation to Iran on 12 September 2008. Whilst the Court argued that the Government could not claim that this case was akin to that of Ghorbanov and Others v Turkey and thus that the applicant had not run a risk of deportation from Iran to Uzbekistan. The Court highlighted that the Government’s claim that Iran was considered as a “safe state” by the Court in that previous case was unfounded.  The Court stated that the nowhere in Ghorbanov had the Court stated that Iran was a “safe third country” and in addition the applicant in the present case had only spent two and half years living in Iran as an asylum seeker in comparison to those who had lived there for six years as refugees in Ghorbonov and Others.

However, above all the Court emphasised that the question was not whether the applicant ran a real risk of ill-treatment in Iran or in Uzbekistan as such but whether the Turkish authorities carried out an adequate assessment of the applicant’s claim that he would be at risk of ill-treatment. They stressed that the Court’s examination was limited to ascertaining whether the State had fulfilled their procedural obligations. The Court stated that the applicant had clearly been living in Turkey legally while his application to the UNHCR in Turkey was under consideration. He had also substantiated and provided evidence for his claim that he was at risk of ill treatment if he was deported and thus the Turkish authorities were obliged to investigate.

With this in mind, the Turkish government were explicitly asked to provide information pertaining to the applicant’s asylum requests and documentation relating to his deportation order. The Turkish government also mentioned that the applicant’s status was being assessed but did not provide details as to the outcome of the assessment. As a result, the Court reasoned that the applicant was deported to Iran, a non-member State of the Council of Europe, in the absence of a legal procedure providing safeguards against unlawful deportation and without a proper assessment of his asylum claim which was in violation of Article 3. Given this finding on Article 3 the Court found it unnecessary to rule separately on Article 13.

With regards to the applicant’s threatened deportation to Iran or Uzbekistan, the Court held the applicant had not extinguished all the possible domestic procedures available to him. The Court initially rejected the government’s objection to the applicant’s status as a victim on the grounds of the absence of a deportation order. This is because despite the lack of such an order, the applicant was still deported to Iran. However, the Court did mention that in light of new legislation in Turkey which provides international protection and the ability to request new identity documentation the applicant cannot be said to face the same risk of deportation that he faced in 2008.

The Court stated that it is not called upon to assess whether the remedies before administrative courts are effective in law and practice and that in conclusion the applicant could not considered to be a victim within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention in relation to his complaints concerning his threatened deportation from Turkey within the meaning of Article 35 para 3. The applicant’s allegations under Article 3 in respect to his threatened deportation to Iran or Uzbekistan must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 para 4. The Court does, however, note that this finding is without any prejudice to any examination that it may carry out in the future in respect of the application of provisions under the new legislation.

The Court also found violations of Article 5 paras 1, 2 of the Convention.  In the absence of clear legal provisions establishing the procedure for ordering detention with a view to deportation, the applicants’ detention had not been “lawful” for the purposes of Article 5 of the Convention. In the absence of submissions from the Turkish Government, the Court was led to conclude that the reasons for the applicant’s detention on 12 September 2008 were never communicated to him by the national authorities.

Finally, the Court held that there was no need to examine the applicant’s claim of a violation against para 5 of Article 5 as according to case-law, it does not deal with remedies which may serve to review the lawfulness of a short-term detention that has already ended.


Violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the applicant’s deportation to Iran on 12 September 2008 and violations of Article 5 para 1 and 5 para 2.


This case summary was written by Adam Janmohamed.

Other sources cited: 

A.A v. Turkey (case no. 2009/3343)

M.Y.S v. Turkey (case no. 2010/881)

G.M v. Turkey (case no.2010/2346)

(Case no.2014/2246)

(Case no. 2014/2430)

(Case no. 2014/2085)

(Case no. 2009/8048)

(CommDH(2009)31) A Report by Mr Thomas Hammarberg, then Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe.

2008 Report on Human Rights Practices in Turkey, the United States Department of State.

Statements from Amnesty International, 17 and 30 September 2018.

“Stranded: Refugees in Turkey Denied Protextion”, 2009 Report by Amnesty International.


Authentic Language: 
State Party: 
National / Other Legislative Provisions: 
Uzbekistan - Foreigners and International Protection Act (Law no. 6458) s52-60
s 61-90
Uzbekistan – Uzbekistan Criminal Code – Article 159 – s4