ECtHR - B.M. v. Greece, Application No. 53608/11

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Country of Applicant: 
Iran
Date of Decision: 
19-12-2013
Citation: 
Application No. 53608/11
Court Name: 
First Section; European Court of Human Rights
Headnote: 

Greek detention conditions and lack of effective review violate Iranian asylum seeker’s Article 3 and Article 13 rights, but complaint against removal declared inadmissible and detention ruled to be lawful and non-arbitrary.

Facts: 

The Applicant, an Iranian national, was a militant journalist in Iran who fled after being arrested and tortured for anti-establishment protests. Arriving in Greece via Turkey, his asylum claim was dismissed and he was detained pending deportation to Turkey in a police station and various detention centres.

He filed objections to his detention conditions, alleging lack of hygiene and overcrowding, but these were rejected. He initiated an appeal against the asylum refusal while in detention, and was then released due to the expiration of the maximum detention time period under Greek law. The Applicant failed to appear at the appeal hearing, and the appeal was therefore discontinued.

Before the ECtHR, the Applicant claimed one Article 3 violation on account of his detention conditions and the lack of effective means of challenging those conditions. Another Article 3 violation, together with Article 13, was submitted due to the risk of his removal to Turkey. Finally, he claimed the nature of his arrest and detention was incompatible with Article 5(1).

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Court relied on previous cases against Greece in which it concluded that the conditions in the three different centres where the Applicant had been detained amounted to a violation of Article 3. In addition, reports by the CPT, UNHCR, the Greek Human Rights Commission and the Greek Ombudsman concerning the centre where the Applicant spent most of his time in detention showed that nothing had changed in that centre since the Court’s last judgments. As the Greek Government had not provided any facts or arguments to counter these conclusions, the Court found a violation of Article 3 on account of the Applicant’s detention conditions.

The Court also found a violation of Article 13 in connection with Article 3 because the Applicant did not have an effective remedy at his disposal to challenge his detention conditions.

Concerning the Applicant’s second complaint under Articles 3 and 13 about the risk of removal to Turkey, the Court considered it inadmissible due to non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.

As regards the Applicant’s complaint under Article 5(1)(f), the Court recalled that this provision only requires that an expulsion procedure is in process with respect to the person detained and that, at the same time, only the active process of such a procedure can justify a deprivation of liberty. The Court concluded that the Applicant’s detention was not arbitrary as it was in compliance with Greek law and it did not exceed the time limits established for the expulsion of a foreign national.

Outcome: 

Violation of Article 3 for detention conditions; Violation of Article 3 taken together with Article 13 for lack of effective means to challenge conditions; Complaint concerning risk of removal to Turkey inadmissible; No violation of Article 5. 8,000 Euros for non-pecuniary loss awarded.

Case Law Cited: 

ECtHR - Horshill v. Greece, Application No. 70427/11

ECtHR - Van der Ven v. the Netherlands, Application No. 50901/99

ECtHR - S.D. v Greece (Application no. 53541/07)

ECtHR - Conka v Belgium (Application no. 51564/99)

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

ECtHR - Kudla v Poland [GC], Application No. 30210/96

ECtHR - Chalal v. the United Kingdom, Application No. 1948/04

ECtHR - Ramirez Sanchez v. France [GC], Application No. 59450/00

ECtHR - Takush c. Greece, Application No. 2853/09

ECtHR - Siasios et al. v. Greece, Application No. 30303/07

ECtHR - Vafiadis v. Greece, Application No. 24981/07

ECtHR - Shuvaev v. Greece, Application No. 8249/07

ECtHR - Efremidze v. Greece, Application No. 33225/08

ECtHR - UK v. Greece, Application No. 2237/08

ECtHR - McGlinchey and Others v. the United Kingdom, Application No. 50390/99

ECtHR - Dessalles v. France, Application No. 50764/99
Attachment(s): 
Other sources cited: 
  • European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CPT): report of 17 November 2010, drawn up following a visit from 17 to 29  September 2009, report of 10 January 2012, drawn up following a visit from 19 to 27  January 2011;
  • Greece High Commissioner for Refugees United Nations reported findings from a visit to border post Soufli, carried out from 29  September to 1 st October 2010;
  • 18 to 20 March 2011 National Commission for Human Rights and the Ombudsman visits to the detention centers of Evros and Rodopi departments to examine the conditions of detention of foreigners and the application of the legislation on asylum;
  • ProAsyl Report April 2012 ‘Walls of Shame - The detention centers of Evros’
Authentic Language: 
French
State Party: 
Greece
National / Other Legislative Provisions: 
Greece - Law No. 3386/2005 - Sections 78
Greece - Law No. 3386/2005 - Sections 77
Greece - Law No. 3386/2005 - Sections 76
Greece - Law No. 3386/2005 - Article 2
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 114/2010 entitled ‘Refugee status: single procedure for foreigners and stateless persons’ - Art 13
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 114/2010 entitled ‘Refugee status: single procedure for foreigners and stateless persons’ - Art 5
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 114/2010 entitled ‘Refugee status: single procedure for foreigners and stateless persons’ - Art 6
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 114/2010 entitled ‘Refugee status: single procedure for foreigners and stateless persons’ - Art 26
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 114/2010 entitled ‘Refugee status: single procedure for foreigners and stateless persons’ - Art 32
Greece - Law No. 3900/2010
Greece - Law No. 3907/2011 - Art 30