ECtHR - M.E. v. France, Application No. 50094/10

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Country of Applicant: 
Egypt
Date of Decision: 
06-06-2013
Citation: 
Application No. 50094/10
Court Name: 
Fifth Section; European Court of Human Rights
Headnote: 

The forced return of a Coptic Christian to Egypt would expose him to a risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR, but the processing of his asylum application through the fast-track procedure was not a violation Article 13 due to the almost 3 year delay in claiming asylum.

Facts: 

The Applicant, an Egyptian national, is a former prominent member of the Coptic Christian community. In mid-2007, the Applicant (and his family) sustained persecution on the basis of their religion, in the form of multiple physical and verbal attacks, eviction by their landlord, and death threats. The authorities failed to act on his complaints of persecution. Finally, the Applicant was prosecuted, convicted and sentenced in absentia to three years imprisonment for proselytising.

The Applicant arrived in France in September 2007 but did not claim asylum on arrival, allegedly due to ignorance of the asylum system. His arrest in Germany in August 2010, while visiting a friend, and his transfer to the French authorities led him to be detained and made the subject of an administrative removal order. While in detention, he applied for asylum, on the basis of advice as to the process, and appealed against the removal order.

His asylum application, due to an almost 3 year delay, was dealt with under the fast-track procedure. The French Agency for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) refused his application due to a lack of clarity in his witness statement, and the fact that his supporting documentation was un-translated. The National Asylum Tribunal upheld the decision of OFPRA.

On 31 August 2010, the Applicant applied for, and was granted, a Rule 39 Interim Measure against his removal from the ECtHR.

His challenge to the removal order was rejected by both the Strasbourg Administrative Court (August 2010) and the Nancy Court of Appeal (March 2011), on the basis of his failure to provide evidence of the alleged risks he faced in Egypt.

Before the ECtHR, the Applicant complains that his removal to Egypt would expose him to a risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 (inhuman or degrading treatment), and that the application of the fast-track procedure to his asylum claim was a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).  

Decision & Reasoning: 

On Article 3, the Court affirmed, on the basis of country of origin information, that Coptic Christians were the subject of persecution in Egypt, with inadequate protection offered by the authorities. As to the Applicant’s personal circumstances, the Court was persuaded that the Applicant was the victim of past persecution, was denied redress by the authorities, and was at risk of future persecution, in particular given his status as a convicted and targeted proselytiser. The authenticity of his police and judicial summons were undisputed by the French government. The Court therefore ruled that his return to Egypt would constitute a violation of Article 3.

As to Article 13 taken together with Article 3, the Court accepted that the fast track procedure, especially given that the Applicant was detained and a first-time asylum-seeker, made it more difficult for the Applicant to make his asylum application. However, disbelieving his plea of ignorance of the asylum system, the Court ruled that the fast-track procedure was justified given the three year delay in making an application. The Court also noted the suspensive nature of both the removal appeal and the asylum application, the tight time limits for which were proportionate given the delayed application. The Court was therefore satisfied by the effectiveness of the remedies available to the Applicant, and found no violation of Article 13.

Outcome: 

The Applicant’s removal to Egypt would constitute a violation of Article 3; no violation of Article 13 taken together with Article 3.

700 Euros awarded for costs and expenses.

Case Law Cited: 

ECtHR - Klaas v Germany, Application No. 15473/89

ECtHR - Chalal v. the United Kingdom, Application No. 1948/04

ECtHR - Kudla v Poland [GC], Application No. 30210/96

ECtHR - I.M. v France, Application No. 9152/09 - unpub

ECtHR - Bati and Others v Turkey, Application No. 33097/96 and 57834/00

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

ECtHR - Shamayev v Georgia (April 2005) (Application no. 36378/02)

ECtHR - Jabari v Turkey, 11 July 2000, (Application no. 40035/98)

ECtHR - Sultani v France (Application no. 45223/05) - (UP)
Other sources cited: 
  • Amnesty International public statement issued on 12  January 2010;
  • 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom - Egypt, published on 17 November 2010 by the U.S. State Department;
  • 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom - Egypt , on 30 July 2012, by the U.S. State Department
Authentic Language: 
French
State Party: 
France