ECtHR - M.A. v. France (application no. 9373/15) [Article 3, Article 13 ECHR], 1 February 2018

Thursday, February 1, 2018

On 1 February 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in case M.A. v. France (application no. 9373/15), which concerned an Algerian national who was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and was made the subject of a permanent exclusion order from French territory for involvement in a conspiracy to prepare acts of terrorism. In December 2014 the applicant lodged an asylum application, which was rejected by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA). On 20 February 2015 the applicant’s lawyer was informed that the applicant was being expelled and submitted a fresh request for interim measures to the ECtHR, which demanded the French government not to remove the applicant before 25 February 2015. Yet, the applicant was removed to Algeria and taken into police custody.

The applicant submitted that his removal to Algeria exposed him to a serious risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR, that the French government had failed in its obligations under Article 34 ECHR by not complying with the interim measure, and that his expulsion violated his right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 ECHR.

With regard to his complaint under Article 3 ECHR, the Court reaffirmed that it was legitimate for Contracting States to take a very firm stand against those who contributed to terrorist acts (Daoudi v. France). However, several reports by the UN Committee against Torture and by NGOs described that suspects of terrorism in Algeria were often detained, ill-treated or tortured. Therefore, France had violated Article 3 ECHR by sending the applicant to Algeria.

The ECtHR also ruled that the authorities had breached Article 34 ECHR by carrying out the applicant’s transfer despite the Court’s interim measure. It also affirmed that the applicant had become aware that his asylum application had been rejected and that he would be returned on the same day that the flight was scheduled, leaving him with no time to apply to the Court for a second interim measure. 

Finally, the Court rejected the complaint concerning an alleged violation of Article 8 ECHR on the grounds that the applicant had not exhausted the available domestic remedies. The ECtHR also stated that it was incumbent on the French Government to do their utmost to obtain from the Algerian authorities a concrete and precise assurance that the applicant had not been, and would not be, subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.

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Exclusion from protection
Family unity (right to)
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment