ECtHR Decision in C.D. and Others v. Greece, Application Nos. 33441/10, 33468/10 and 33476/10 [Articles 3, 5 and 9], 19 December 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Applicants were all asylum seekers in 2009 in Greece who were detained pending removal to their countries of origin, from which they fled for political reasons on unknown dates. They lodged objections to the Greek authorities concerning the conditions of their months of detention at Venna detention centre, due to a lack of hygiene, insufficient living space and no access to outdoor exercise. Except for one, who obtained refugee status, the rest were either deported to their countries of origin or to Turkey, or released in 2010. Before the ECtHR, the Applicants raised claims based on Article 3 concerning their detention conditions, Article 5 concerning the unlawfulness of their detention, and Article 9 due to their being allegedly forced, as Muslims, to choose between eating pork or nothing at all.

Concerning the alleged violation of Article 3, the Court observed that the allegations of the Applicants in relation to conditions at the Venna detention centre were consistent with the findings of the CPT, the UN Special Rapporteur against Torture and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, which concluded that detention conditions were inadequate there. The centre was closed after the visit of the latter in December 2012. On this basis, the Court declared a violation of Article 3.

The Court also found a violation of Article 5(4) because the remedies provided for by the Greek law at the time of the detention of the Applicants did not allow for judicial review of the lawfulness of the expulsion order that served as legal basis for detention. Instead, detention could only be challenged on the basis of risk of absconding or threat to public order. In addition, the administrative challenge of the expulsion order could not be used to challenge detention. Therefore, the Applicants did not have an effective remedy for the review of the lawfulness of their detention.

As regards Article 5(1), the Court found that the detention of the Applicants was based on Greek law. In addition, the time that transpired until they were returned could not be considered disproportionate in view of the necessary administrative formalities  with which the Greek and Turkish authorities, as well as the authorities of the countries of origin of some of the Applicants, had to comply. The Greek authorities had not acted passively during the returns procedure and therefore the detention of the Applicants had been justified. Finally, the Court declared the Applicants’ allegations under Article 9 manifestly ill-founded and inadmissible.

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