In a ruling which falls in line with many of the Court’s previous judgments concerning reception and detention conditions in Greece (notably M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece and B.M. v. Greece) the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has  ruled again that detention conditions at Soufli border post constitute a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits inhumane and degrading treatment. The Court, however, declined to accept that the right to liberty and security and right to an effective remedy had been violated.

Upon arrival to Greece in 2010, H.H, an Iranian national fleeing political persecution in Iran, was detained at Soufli pending a decision on his expulsion due to a lack of required travel documents. Requesting to lodge an application for asylum which was supposedly not recorded by the authorities, the applicant later sewed his lips together in protest at the detention conditions at Soufli and the refusal by the authorities to register his asylum application. In his submissions to the Court, the applicant, argued that during a period of 6 months he had been placed at Soufli and, intermittently, at Feres detention centre between 2010 and 2011. At both centres H.H submitted that he could not go outside neither to walk nor exercise. The conditions had a particularly adverse effect on his mental health subsequently leading to suicide attempts. H.H further claimed that the centre was severely overcrowded, unhygienic and underequipped. The Court, relying on their previous jurisprudence and UNHCR and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture reports, concluded that nothing had improved in Soufli from its previous jurisprudence to counteract the present applicant’s arguments.

Greece has persistently been condemned by the Court for the inhumane conditions in detention centres where asylum seekers are often placed. The most recent of these cases are F.H. v. Greece and Tatishvili v. Greece.


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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 10 October 2014. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.