ECtHR Decision in B.M. v. Greece, Application No. 53608/11 [Articles 3, 5(1) and 13], 19 December 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

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).

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.

Based on an unofficial ECRE translation.

Read the full judgment(French only) of the European Court of Human Rights.

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Effective remedy (right to)
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Reception conditions