ECtHR - L.O. v France (no. 4455/14) [Article 3] 18 June 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

This case relates to a Nigerian national who moved to France in 2010 after being told by A. that she could earn money working in France as a babysitter for his children. A. made all the administrative arrangements for her departure. Upon arrival to France, she was confined in A.’s apartment for a week and was repeatedly raped. He forced her into prostitution, explaining that she owed him 50,000 euros for her travel and accommodation costs and would have to pay 1,000 a month. She was beaten and raped by A. if she was unable to pay, and he threatened her family in Nigeria.  
In 2011, under A.’s instructions, the applicant claimed asylum on the basis of a risk of FGM and arranged marriage. Her claim was refused by the French authorities in 2013, and she was arrested, detained and notified of her obligation to leave French territory. She filed a request for review of her asylum application claiming that she was victim of a network of human trafficking and that she had been unable to reveal this in her original asylum claim due to pressure from her trafficker. Her application was rejected.
In her complaint to the ECtHR, the applicant alleged that her return to Nigeria would expose her to a real risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), as her trafficker had threatened to harm her and her family if she did not pay her alleged debt to him.
The Court noted that the applicant’s description of how she was led into prostitution in France, was detailed and consistent with numerous reports from reliable sources. It found that the fact that the applicant had lied to the authorities in the past, did not deprive her later statements of probative value, given that this was common for victims of prostitution. However, it was not apparent that she was still under A.’s influence, or that he was part of a human trafficking network.
It found that the Nigerian authorities were able to offer her sufficient protection to protect against any risks and provide her assistance upon return, relying on its previous finding in V.F. v France (no. 7196/10) and the more recent country reports. The Court therefore concluded that there were no serious and current grounds to believe that the applicant would be at real risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 upon return to Nigeria, and rejected her application as manifestly ill-founded, ending Rule 39 interim measures.
Read the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights here (in French only).
Based on an unofficial ELENA translation.

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Gender Based Persecution
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Persecution (acts of)
Trafficking in human beings