ECtHR - Mohamad v Greece (no. 70586/11) [Articles 3, 5 para 1, 13], 11 December 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has held that the detention of an unaccompanied minor at Feres and Soufli border posts for over 5 months constituted a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as a violation of the right to an effective remedy and the right to liberty and security.

After being arrested for irregular entry into Greece, the applicant, an Iraqi unaccompanied minor, was ordered to leave the Greek territory and out of fear that he would abscond, was placed in detention at Soufli border post. Erroneously noting that the applicant was over 18 the Greek authorities detained him with adults. During this time he was exposed to unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, leading to psychological distress and physical harm.

Noting that previous Court jurisprudence had highlighted inhumane treatment at Greek border posts, especially in Feres and Soufli, (M.S.S v Belgium and Greece and F.H. v Greece) the Court surmised that violations of Article 3 had also occurred in the present case. Moreover, with regards to the applicant’s recourse to an effective remedy by which detention conditions can be raised, the Court noted ECRE’s and the ICJ’s submissions to the Committee of Ministers on the execution of M.S.S, detailing a lack of judicial oversight in Greece throughout the whole detention period. In this manner the Court noted that no thorough or effective investigation into the legality or conditions that the applicant had previously raised (lack of exercise and detention with adults) took place, thus an article 13 read in conjunction with article 3 violation had occurred.

Finally the Court considered the applicants submissions with regards to article 5 para 1 and noted that there had been a breach on two accounts. Firstly, he had not been placed in a centre tailored to his needs as an unaccompanied minor. In fact even after medical examinations were conducted and his correct age was noted he was still returned to Soufli border post and detained with adults. No explanation was given by the government as to why the applicant remained at Soufli instead of at an alternative accommodation suited to his needs. Secondly, after he became an adult and his suspended transfer order lifted, the Greek authorities nonetheless kept the applicant in detention, making no attempt to deport him. Thus, on these two points the Court confirmed that the right to liberty had been infringed.

Based on an unofficial ELENA translation.

12 December 2014                                      

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Effective remedy (right to)
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Unaccompanied minor