Greek authorities unlawfully detained an Afghan asylum seeker
in degrading conditions
Chamber Judgment Ahmade v. Greece 25.09.2012
In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Ahmade v. Greece (application no. 50520/09), which is not final -1-, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
- a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), taken separately and in conjunction with Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights, in respect of the conditions of the applicant’s detention,
- a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 3 in respect of the risk of the applicant’s removal,
- a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and,
- a violation of Article 5 § 4 (procedural guarantees of review).
The case concerned the arrest and detention pending removal to Afghanistan of an Afghan national. The Court noted in particular that the applicant’s detention had caused him considerable suffering and no effective remedy had been available to him to complain about it. It further observed that he had been held unlawfully and that there had been no review of the lawfulness of his detention. Lastly, the Court once again pointed to the shortcomings in the Greek asylum system. It emphasised that the applicant risked being removed before his asylum appeals had been heard.
The applicant, Seydmajed Ahmade, is an Afghan national who lives in Athens (Greece).
Mr Ahmade arrived in Greece on 23 December 2007. He was arrested several times etween then and 11 August 2008 and each time various removal decisions were taken against him. Following a fight, the applicant was arrested again on 27 August 2009. His removal was ordered once again and he was held at the police station on the ground that he posed a threat to public order and was likely to abscond on account of the criminal proceedings against him concerning the fight.
He was committed for trial before the Athens Criminal Court, in particular for illegally entering Greece. On 31 August 2009, for that offence alone, he was given a suspended sentence of 30 days’ imprisonment and fined 40 euros for costs. As he could not pay that sum he was held at the police station for 8 days.
On 8 September the applicant lodged an asylum application with the Refugee
Mr Ahmade applied to the President of the Athens Administrative Court on 11 September 2009 to complain about the conditions of his detention, referring among other things to the overcrowding and atrocious hygiene in the police cells. Even though the main criminal proceedings had in the meantime been discontinued and in spite of his asylum application, he was unsuccessful in the first instance and on appeal and was held in custody on the ground that he might abscond because of his illegal situation.
Mr Ahmade’s detention, which was extended in order to guarantee his removal, lasted for 83 days in total in the cells of two police stations in Athens. He was released on 18 November pending a decision on his asylum application, which was ultimately dismissed on 14 December 2009. He lodged two appeals against that decision.
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______________________-1- Under Articles 43 and 44 of the Convention, this Chamber judgment is not final. During the three-month period following its delivery, any party may request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber of the Court. If such a request is made, a panel of five judges considers whether the case deserves further examination. In that event, the Grand Chamber will hear the case and deliver a final judgment. If the referral request is refused, the Chamber judgment will become final on that day.
Once a judgment becomes final, it is transmitted to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for supervision of its execution. Further information about the execution process can be found here: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/execution