ECtHR - S.A v. The Netherlands, Application n° 49773/15, 2 June 2020

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Country of Applicant: 
Date of Decision: 
ECtHR, 2 June 2020, S.A v. The Netherlands, n° 49773/15
Additional Citation: 
Court Name: 
European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section)

National authorities are best placed to assess the credibility of asylum claimants.

The ill-treatment of people of non-Arab ethnic origin in Sudan is not systematic. Therefore, when the personal circumstances of an applicant that may create a risk of persecution are insufficiently substantiated, the applicant’s removal to Sudan will not give rise to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.


The applicant’s three requests for international protection were rejected because his statements were found lacking credibility, in particular those regarding his country of origin.

The applicant had entered the Netherlands on a valid Chadian passport, which he declared he had obtained through bribery. Based on the findings of a language analysis, the State Secretary doubted his claim that he originated from Darfur.

The State Secretary considered that there was nothing in the applicant’s individual profile to suggest that he would attract the negative attention of the Sudanese authorities as a political dissident or a person suspected of having ties with armed rebels in Darfur.

Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), the applicant complains before the ECtHR that if removed to Sudan he would be at risk of forced recruitment, persecution because he belonged to a non-Arab ethnic group from Darfur, and more generally, on account of the humanitarian situation in Sudan as a result of the conflict in Darfur.

Decision & Reasoning: 

First, the Court points out that the assessment of the risk of an Article 3 infringement must focus on the foreseeable consequences of the applicant’s removal to the country of destination, in the light of the general situation there and of his or her personal circumstances.

The applicant did not dispute that the general situation in Sudan was not such as to entail, in itself, a risk of ill-treatment. Therefore, the examination focuses on the applicant’s personal circumstances.

The Court then goes on to note that the State Secretary found that the applicant had made implausible statements and had not satisfactorily established that he originated from the Sudanese part of Darfur. The Court reiterates that the national authorities are best placed to assess the credibility of asylum claimants and states that it sees no grounds to depart from the conclusions drawn by the domestic authorities as to the lack of credibility of the applicant’s asylum statements.

The Court observes that the situation for people of non-Arab ethnic origin is not so serious that it must be concluded that they are at risk of persecution or serious harm in Khartoum solely on the grounds of their ethnicity.

As to the alleged risks of forced recruitment and the risk of ill-treatment because of involvement in political opposition groups, the Court argues that these are insufficiently substantiated.

The Court concludes that the applicant’s removal to Sudan would not give rise to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

Finally, the Court noted that the applicant had had ample opportunity to present his case and challenge decisions at a domestic level.


No violation of Articles 3 and 13 ECHR.


This summary was written by Roel Stynen, Law student at Ghent University.

Other sources cited: 

Danish Immigration Service and United Kingdom Home Office, “Situation of Persons from Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile in Khartoum”, August 2016

United Kingdom Home Office, “Sudan: Non-Arab Darfuris”, August 2017

United Kingdom Home Office, “Report of a fact-finding mission to Khartoum, Sudan; conducted between 10 and 17 August 2018”, November 2018

United Kingdom Home Office, “Sudan: Non-Arab Darfuris”, November 2019

Asylum Research Centre, “Sudan: Query Response, The situation in Khartoum and Omdurman – An update”, 13 September 2018

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