In two separate cases this summer, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that the living conditions in several detention centres across Greece amounted to degrading treatment, thus triggering a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

In the case of F.H. v. Greece, the ECtHR held that the applicant, an Iranian national, was detained in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions before ending up on the streets without any material support and no access to health care. The ECtHR ruled that both the detention conditions and the living conditions after the applicant’s release constituted degrading treatment.

Furthermore, the Court held that Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) read in conjunction with Article 3 was further breached given that F.H. had been given no effective remedy by which to complain of his detention conditions. The ECtHR ruled that Greece had not breached the applicant’s rights to liberty and security.

Upon arrival in Greece in 2010, F.H. was arrested, ordered to return to Iran and held at Feres detention centre. He subsequently applied for asylum but was later transferred to Venna detention centre. The asylum application was rejected by the Greek authorities, upon which F.H. lodged an appeal. He was released pending the examination of the appeal.

In the case of Tatishvili v. Greece, the Court took into particular consideration the length that the applicant had been detained, 10 months in Petrou Ralli detention centre, and the over-crowding in both Thessaloniki immigration police and the Attica immigration department (Petrou Ralli). The Court noted that centres, including Petrou Ralli, were inappropriate for detention purposes of irregular migrants.

These cases reiterate previous judgments by the ECtHR that have repeatedly condemned Greece for violating Article 3 ECHR which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment, as a result of the conditions of detention in which applicants have been held, such as M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, Tabesh v. Greece and Bygylashvili v. Greece


This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 19 September 2014. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.