ECtHR Grand Chamber hearing of Tarakhel v. Switzerland, Application No. 29217/12), 12 February 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014

On 12 February 2014 the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR heard the complaint of the Tarakhel family against the Swiss government’s order that they be transferred to Italy under the Dublin II Regulation. The family submitted that removal would violate their rights under Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights due to the accommodation conditions for asylum seekers in Italy. The family also argued that, when they appealed against removal, the Swiss authorities failed to give due consideration to the reception conditions in Italy and the best interests of the children, in violation of Articles 8 (right to family life) and 13 (right to an effective remedy).

As well as hearing the submissions of the family’s legal representatives, the Grand Chamber heard from the governments of Switzerland and Italy. The UK, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands sent written submissions to the court. The AIRE Centre, Amnesty International and ECRE collectively submitted a written intervention, as did Defence for Children.

The Tarakhel family, an Afghan couple and their five children, travelled to Italy via boat from Turkey having resided in Iran for 15 years. The parents were fingerprinted and the family was taken to a reception centre in Italy. They then left the country and sought asylum in Austria. Once their application was rejected, the family entered Switzerland, where their deportation under the Dublin Regulation to Italy was ordered. When their appeal to the Swiss Federal Administrative Court was refused, the family complained to the European Court, which asked the Swiss authorities to halt the family’s removal for the duration of proceedings.

The Grand Chamber, comprising 17 judges, reserved judgment until a later date.

Read the ECtHR’s press release and watch a webcast of the hearing.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.

Best interest of the child
Dublin Transfer
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Reception conditions