S.A. v Netherlands: Removal of applicant to Sudan would not amount to violation of Article 3 ECHR

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

On 2 June 2020, the European Court of Human Rights published its judgment in S.A. v The Netherlands (Application No. 49773/15) concerning the risk of exposure to inhuman and degrading treatment in the event of an applicant’s removal to Sudan.

The applicant, a Sudanese national, entered The Netherlands in 2010 and made two applications for asylum in 2011 and 2014, which were both rejected. He alleged, inter alia, that if returned to Sudan he would be at risk of being perceived as an opponent to the regime as he belonged to the Tunjur, a non-Arab ethnic group associated with Darfuri rebel groups, but the national authorities did not believe his account to be credible. His removal was halted on the basis of the Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. The applicant argued that his return to Sudan would expose him to a real risk of ill-treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR. He further complained under Article 13 that he did not have an effective remedy for the alleged violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

The Court observed that the assessment of the presence of a real risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR must be rigorous, focus on the foreseeable consequences of the applicant’s removal to the country of destination in light of the general situation there, and individual’s personal circumstances. It added that the general situation in Sudan, which was discussed in previous rulings, was not of such a nature as to entail, in itself, a breach of the Article 3. The Court also affirmed that national authorities are most capable and best placed to assess the credibility of the applicant’s account. In the present case the domestic authorities did not find the applicant’s account to be credible and the Court sees no grounds to depart from their conclusions. It added, inter alia, that the ill-treatment of nationals of non-Arab ethnic origin was not systematic in nature, concluding that his return to Sudan would not present a risk that would be in violation of Article 3. As regards the applicant's Article 13 complaint, the Court noted that there was evidence of ample opportunity for the applicant to present his case and challenge decisions at a domestic level.

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 published 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
Effective remedy (right to)
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment