N.T.P. and others v. France (No. 68862/13), 24 August 2018

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Country of Applicant: 
Congo (DRC)
Date of Decision: 
24-08-2018
Citation: 
No. 68862/13
Court Name: 
European Court of Human Rights, fifth section
Relevant Legislative Provisions: 
International Law
International Law > 1951 Refugee Convention
International Law > 1951 Refugee Convention > Art 33
Headnote: 

The Court examines the individuals’ circumstances and finds that the appointment with the French authorities to register and assess their asylum cases within a three-month period, coupled with the possibility for the applicants to stay in a foster home at night, access education, healthcare and meals provided by organisations during the day, cannot amount to treatment prohibited under the Convention.

Facts: 

The applicants, N.T.P. and her three infants, all nationals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), were given an appointment date which was set three months later to decide on the admission of their stay and to file a request for asylum. The applicants did not benefit from social aid as they were not yet recognised as asylum applicants.

They remained in a foster home from the evening until breakfast, the mother and her youngest child wandering the streets during the day while the two other applicants were placed in a kindergarten. They sometimes benefited from the help of some associations throughout the day.

N.T.P. lodged an application for interim measures before the Administrative Tribunal in order to request the assessment of their asylum claims, to obtain a provisional residence permit and to be placed in a reception centre. The refusal of this application was further confirmed on appeal by the interim judge of the Council of State, on the grounds that the appointment would take place within the three-month time limit, which demonstrates the authorities’ respect of the applicants’ fundamental right to asylum, despite acknowledging the great precarity of asylum applicants’ situations.

N.T.P. filed a request to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which succeeded in arranging an earlier appointment. The Court ruled on this case only after the interview took place, the applicants having been placed in a reception centre and benefiting from temporary funding and aid from relevant organisations. 

Decision & Reasoning: 

The applicants claim that they lived in conditions prohibited under articles 3 and 8 of the Convention – respectively prohibiting inhuman and degrading treatment and protecting the right to family life – owing to the French authorities’ prolonged lack of action to register their asylum claims, despite their particular vulnerability.

The Court first recalls the different emergency facilities which were created to cope with the great numbers of asylum applicants. It also recalls the obligations of Member States under Directive 2013/33/EU (Receptions Directive) regarding the minimum material reception conditions to be provided to asylum applicants upon registration of their claims, to ensure an adequate, healthy and dignified level of living.

Regarding the admissibility of the claim, the Court rejects the government’s argument putting forward the non-exhaustion of all domestic remedies, by reminding that trying one available remedy (e.g. the application before the administrative tribunal and Council of State) over another which did not present greater chances of success satisfies the admissibility criteria.

Regarding the alleged violation of Article 3, the Court recalls the level of gravity which needs to be reached for a treatment to fall under Article 3. In substance, despite acknowledging the hardship of two of the applicants to wander during the day, the Court observes that all applicants had access to food, either from organisations or the kindergarten, were able to sleep in the foster home financed by the government, as well as having access to healthcare. Hence, the Court concludes the authorities have not exhibited indifference towards the applicants and have provided them with a prospect of improvement by arranging an appointment within three months, which is not a situation that could amount to treatment prohibited in Article 3.

Regarding the admissibility of the claim alleging a violation of Article 8, the Court refutes the French government’s above-mentioned argument in relation to the exhaustion of domestic remedies. However, it concurred with the government’s second argument according to which a claim must first be raised before national jurisdictions. Indeed, the Court observes that the applicants did not claim the violation of Article 8 of the Convention in their application before the administrative tribunal and Council of State, rendering the claim inadmissible. 

Outcome: 
  • No violation of Article 3 of the Convention
  • Complaint under Article 8 of the Convention deemed inaddmissible. 
Case Law Cited: 

ECtHR - Cardot v. France, Application No. 11069/84

ECtHR - Rahimi v. Greece, Application No. 8687/08

ECtHR - Kanagaratnam v. Belgium no. 15297/09

ECtHR - El Masri v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia [GC], Application No. 39630/09

ECtHR - Svinarenko et Slyadnev v. Russia, Application nos 32541/08 and 43441/08

Saciri and others (C-79/13) 27 February 2014

ECtHR - Micallef v. Malta [GC], no 17056/06, 15 October 2009

ECtHR - Moreira Barbosa v. Portugal, Application No. 65681/01

ECtHR - Aquilina v. Malta [GC], Application No. 25642/94

ECtHR – Vuckovic and others v Serbia, Application No. 17153/11

Elçi and others v. Turkey (Nos. 23145/93 and 25091/94) 13 November 2003)
Other sources cited: 

IGAS (Inspector General of Social Affairs) Report 2013, No. 13-028/12-123/01

Authentic Language: 
English
State Party: 
France
National / Other Legislative Provisions: 
France - Administrative Code of Justice - Art. 521-2
France - Cesda (Code of Entry and Stay of Foreigners and Asylum Law L 711-1
France - Cesda (Code of Entry and Stay of Foreigners and Asylum Law L 712-1
France - Cesda (Code of Entry and Stay of Foreigners and Asylum Law) Art L. 742-1