N A v Finland: Decision to deport Iraqi national killed upon return to country of origin violated Art 2 and 3 ECHR

Thursday, November 14, 2019

On 14 November 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) delivered its judgment on the decision to return an Iraqi national to his country of origin, where he was subsequently killed.

The applicant’s father was a Sunni Muslim Arab from Baghdad who had previously worked in the national army under former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s regime and as a leading officer for the Iraqi Office of the Inspector General. After two separate attempts were made to kill the applicant’s father, the family went into hiding. In September 2015, the family arrived in Finland where their application for international protection was rejected. The applicant’s father applied for assisted voluntary return and left Finland in November 2017. In December 2017, the applicant learned that her father had been shot and killed in Baghdad. The applicant further argued that her father had left as a result of an enforceable expulsion order rather than by his free will.

As well as emphasising the absolute nature of Article 3 ECHR rights, the Court noted, inter alia, that the applicant’s father did not have a genuine free choice in the matter of his return, meaning that his removal must be considered a forced return. The Court determined, inter alia, that the Finnish authorities had failed to consider whether the individual circumstances of the applicant’s father placed him at an increased risk of ill treatment. Moreover, the Finnish authorities had failed to consider the cumulative nature of this evidence in the context of general violence and heightened security in Iraq. The Court also emphasised that domestic authorities had insufficiently considered the past ill treatment of the applicant’s father when assessing the future risk of ill treatment and failed to take into consideration the targeted nature of the attacks.

In ruling, the Court highlighted the similarity with previous case law before concluding that the domestic authorities were aware or ought to have been aware of the danger to life or risk of ill treatment the applicant’s father would be exposed to upon return. The Court therefore found the expulsion amounted to a violation of Articles 2 and 3 ECHR.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is pusexblished but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.



Assessment of facts and circumstances
Country of origin information
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Real risk