ECtHR- Horshill v. Greece, Application no. 70427/11, 1 November 2013

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Country of Applicant: 
Date of Decision: 
ECtHR- Horshill v. Greece, Application no. 70427/11, 1 November 2013
Court Name: 
European Court of Human Rights First Chamber

The case examined the allegations of a Sudanese national, detained for fifteen days in two police stations in Greece after applying for asylum, that his placement in detention was unlawful (Article 5 para 1) and his detention conditions were inhuman (Article 3).


The applicant, a Sudanese national, entered Greece in an irregular manner in 2010. Allegedly an active member of a students’ anti-government movement, he was arrested and tortured on three occasions by the regime and subsequently fled Soudan, via Syria and Turkey. On 29 April 2011, he appeared voluntarily to the police station for foreigners to apply for asylum. Given that he didn’t possess travel documents, he was detained for a period of sixty days, corresponding to the time limit for the examination of his asylum claim foreseen in national law.

The applicant questioned unsuccessfully this decision before the Director General of the Police of Epirus. He also submitted objections against his continued detention to the president of the Corfu Administrative Court, which were also rejected. On 13 May 2013 he was released and hosted by the non-governmental organisation “Médecins du Monde”, which offered to accommodate the applicant in its hostel. On 19 June 2012 the applicant withdraw his asylum application and returned to his country of origin, profiting from a voluntary return programme.

The applicant complained before the Court that his detention conditions in the premises of the police stations were contrary to Article 3 of the Convention because of the overcrowding, poor hygiene conditions, lack of natural light and absence of any possibility of physical exercise. Relying on Article 5 para 1, he complained about his placement in detention even though he had voluntarily gone to the police to apply for asylum. 

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Court noted that the applicant had been detained for fifteen days in the premises of two police stations. Taking cue from its jurisprudence as well as reports of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Court noted that the premises of the police were not appropriate places for the detention of people awaiting the application of an administrative measure. It further highlighted that they were destined to accommodate persons for very short periods [47].  Taking into consideration the different aspects of the applicant’s detention, namely the space at his disposal, access to ventilation and light, access to outdoor activities and possibility of intimacy in the cells, the Court concluded that the applicant was detained in conditions of overcrowding during four days of the total of fifteen days [49]. Concerning the remaining eleven days of detention, the Court recalled the Greek law that prohibits the detention of defendants and accused persons in the premises of the police except for periods absolutely necessary for their transfer to prison [52]. Under these circumstances, the Court estimated that the applicant has been subjected to an inhuman and degrading treatment that was incompatible with Article 3 of the Convention [53].

Concerning the allegations under Article 5 para 1 of the Convention, the Court noted that the applicant had been detained based on the Presidential Decree no. 114/2010-transposing the Directive 2005/85/EC into national law- by which detention of asylum seekers was authorised where they had no travel documents and it was necessary to verify their identity, the circumstances of entry into the country and genuine information about their origin [61]. The Court held that this was undoubtedly the case for the applicant.

It further highlighted that it appeared from the decision of 29 April2011 that the applicant’s placement in detention was not automatic. In addition, the President of the Tribunal Court explained the impossibility of applying in the present case measures other than detention, given that the applicant had neither residence nor stable means of subsistence in Greece [62]. The applicant had made use of available remedies against his detention, which were all rejected by reasoned decisions.

In addition, the Court noted that the applicant had been immediately released by a decision of the police director of Thesprotia, fifteen days after his placement in detention, when the authorities were assured that he was going to be hosted by the NGO “Médecins du Monde"[64]. In view of the above mentioned, the Court considered that the applicant’s detention was not arbitrary and considered it as "lawful" within the meaning of Article 5 para 1 (f) of the Convention.

The Court rejected the applicant’s complaint under Article 5 para 2 as inadmissible in conjunction with Article 35 §§ 3 a) and 4 of the Convention. 


Violation of Article 3 of the Convention with regards to the applicant’s detention conditions in the two Police stations

Case Law Cited: 

ECtHR- Novoselov v. Russia, Application no 66460/01

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

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

ECtHR - Amuur v. France, Application No. 19776/92

ECtHR - Khudoyorov v Russia, Application No. 6847/02

ECtHR - Dougoz v. Greece, Application No. 40907/98

ECtHR - Riad and Idiab v. Belgium, Application Nos. 29787/03 and 29810/03

ECtHR - Ananyev et al. Russia, Application Nos. 42525/07 and 60800/08

ECtHR - Alver v Estonia, Application No. 64812/01

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

ECtHR- Belevitskiy v. Russia, Application no 72967/01

ECtHR - Bygylashvili v. Greece, Application No. 58164/10

ECtHR - Mahdid and Haddar v. Austria, Application No. 74762/01

ECtHR - Chkhartishvili v. Greece, Application No.22910/10, UP

ECtHR - Ahmade v. Greece, Application No 50520/09

ECtHR- Moiseyev v. Russia, no 62936/00

ECtHR- Babushkin v. Russia, Application no 67253/01

ECtHR- István Gábor Kovács v. Hungary, Application no 15707/10
Other sources cited: 

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), Public Statement Concerning Greece, 15 March 2011

Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Recommendation Rec(2006)2of the Committee of Ministers to member stateson the European Prison Rules, 11 January 2006







Authentic Language: 
State Party: 
National / Other Legislative Provisions: 
Greece - Law No. 3386/2005
Greece - Κώδικας Διοικητικής Διαδικασίας (ν. 2690/2004) (Administrative Procedure Code (Act 2690/2004))
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 114/2010 entitled 'Refugee status: single procedure for foreigners and stateless persons'
Greece- Presidential Decree 141/1991