03 July 2015

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in a judgment on 30 June that a Syrian asylum seeker with post-traumatic stress disorder may be removed under the Dublin Regulation from Switzerland to Italy, as he would be able to receive appropriate care there.

A.S. argued that he had been diagnosed with PTSD and suffered from back pain as a result of torture and persecution in Syria, and that two sisters residing in Switzerland provided support for overcoming his trauma. Being removed to Italy, he said, would heighten his risk of suicide and take him away from his sisters’ emotional support.

A.S., the appellant, had claimed asylum in Switzerland after arriving via Greece and Italy. He had appealed to the Court after the Swiss Federal Office of Migration rejected his claim in May 2013 on the basis that he had already been registered in EURODAC in Greece and Italy.

Since no transfers are allowed to Greece under the Dublin Regulation, the question centred on whether A.S. could be returned to Italy, which had earlier agreed to the Swiss request to take responsibility for his asylum application.

In the judgment, the Court ruled that Article 3 and 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms – relating to the prohibition of torture and the right to family life – would not be violated if Switzerland removed him to Italy. The Court found that he could receive a suitable level of care in Italy, and that his relationship to his sisters was not enough to permit him to stay.

In a media release, Swiss human rights NGO Schutzfaktor M said that the decision once again showed health reasons only prevent the return of an asylum seeker in very rare cases. “The consequences for the applicant are questionable from a human rights point of view,” the media release reads. The NGO added that authorities should make use of the options available to them by assessing the asylum application of A.S. under an article in the Asylum Ordinance which makes it possible for the government to take on a case on humanitarian grounds, even when another state is found to be responsible for it.


This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 03 July 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.