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On June 19th 2009, the French prime minister Fillon issued an executive order 2009-724 forbidding citizens to cover their faces in an area where a gathering is taking place. Covering his own face without a “legitimate reason” and if there is risk of “a breach of public order” carries a penalty of a €1,500 fine (art. R645-14 of the penal code).
On April 11th 2011, Act 2010-1192 entered into force. It forbids citizens to cover their faces in any area open to the public unless the covering is legally required, work-related, on health ground, to practice sport or during artistic and “traditional” events. Under this law, covering his own face illegally carries a penalty of a €150 fine.
The prime minister Fillon requested public employees to forbid entrance to all public facilities (train stations, metro stations, airports, courts, prisons, police stations, museums, schools, universities, hospitals, stadiums, libraries, town-halls, polling stations, driving license offices, immigration and asylum offices…) and to refuse service to citizens on the ground that their face is covered (note PRMC1106214C) even though the citizen is offering to show his face for identification purpose. In Paris, two women covering their face were arrested by male plainclothes police officers preventing them to express their opinions to journalists and to demonstrate peacefully (see below video).
On the same day Ms. S.A.S a Muslim woman, filed an application to the ECHR on the ground that the criminalization of the covering of her face when she is in areas open to public, is a violation of her right to privacy (art.8), her freedom of religion (art.9), her freedom of expression (art.10) and her freedom to peaceful assembly (art.11). She added that the ban from public facilities, the refusal of service and the risk to be fined were degrading treatments in violation of article 3. She stated that these discriminatory policies were also in violation of article 14 of the Convention.
On February 1st 2012, the application was communicated to the agent of the French Republic with questions to be answered within 16 weeks. The applicant is represented by Mr. Sanjeev Sharma (Birmingham, UK).
On December 23rd 2008, Mr. I.M was arrested for “unlawful entry” and for “using forged documents” at the railway station of Cerbère in France. During his police custody, his claim for asylum was not recorded by the police officer. He was then detained awaiting trial. On December 26th 2008, he was condemned in a “fast track” trial to one month in jail for “unlawful entry” (art.L621-1 of the code of migration and asylum) despite article 31-1 of the Geneva Convention of 1951. During his detention, another claim for asylum was not recorded.
On January 7th 2009, the local prefect ordered the deportation of Mr. I.M to Sudan. On January 12th 2009, the appeal against his deportation order was rejected by an administrative judge of the administrative tribunal of Montpellier.
On January 16th 2009, he was detained at the immigration detention center of Perpignan awaiting his deportation to Sudan. On January 22th 2009, his claim for asylum was recorded by OFPRA and classified automatically “fast track” (art.L723-1 of the code of migration and asylum). On January 30th 2009, he was interviewed by a case worker of OFPRA and his application was denied the same day. Mr. I.M appealed the decision to the court (CNDA). Nevertheless, on February 11th 2009, Mr. I.M was brought by French police officers to the consulate of Sudan to obtain travel document for his deportation.
On February 16th 2009, Mr. I.M filed an application with the ECHR on the ground that his deportation to Sudan will be a violation of article 3 of the Convention and that the lack of effective remedy a violation of article 13. The same day, the president of the 5th section requested the French Republic to suspend the deportation of the applicant pending a decision of the ECHR (Rule 39). On May 12th 2009, the application was communicated to the agent of the French Republic with questions to be answered within 16 weeks. On December 14th 2010, the application was found admissible. On May 17th 2011, the Court held a public hearing . UNHCR submitted 2 briefs “amicus curiae” (2009, 2011) and intervened during public hearing.
On February 2nd 2012, the 5th section of the ECHR ruled that the allegation of violation of article 3 was inadmissible on the ground that on October 14th 2010 the court (CNDA) granted the applicant refugee status (art.35-3-a). The Court found a violation of articles 13 and 3 of the Convention because the applicant received an unsatisfying legal and interpreting assistance from the duty lawyer (§155) and from the on site NGO Cimade (§145). The Court added that for detained asylum seekers, the automatic classification of their cases as “fast track“, the difficultly to gather evidence, and the shorter delays to claim asylum (5 days) and to appeal their deportation orders (48h) limited severely their access to domestic remedies.
The judgment ordered the French Republic to pay €0 in damages and €4,746.25 in legal fees to the applicant. He was represented by Me Gabriele Summerfield (Perpignan).
On January 23rd 2009, Ms. Kanagaratnam and her 3 minor children M. , G., A. claimed asylum at the passport control of the airport of Brussels (art.50ter law December 15th 1980). They were refused entry and ordered to be deported (art. 52/3 §2) because they claimed asylum without possessing a valid passport and visa (art. 2 §2). An order for their detention in the immigration center “127 bis” (Steenokkerzeel) for 2 months was taken (art. 74/5 §1 2o) because they claimed asylum without possessing a valid passport and visa.
The immigration detention center “127 bis” (Steenokkerzeel) was visited by the CPT (1997 visit report, 2005 visit report), by the Commissioner for Human Rights (2008 visit report CommDH(2009)14) and by the LIBE commission of the European Parliament (2007 visit report see below).
On March 17th 2009, the court CCE (Conseil de contentieux des étrangers) rejected their appeal of the denial of their asylum applications by the Commissioner general for refugees and stateless persons (CGRA) on February 23rd 2009. On March 20th 2009, the police attempted to deport them to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
On March 20th 2009, Ms. Kanagaratnam and her 3 children filed an application with the ECHR on the ground that their deportation to Sri Lanka via DRC will be a violation of article 3 of the Convention. They added that their detention was a violation of article 3 and 5-1-f) of the Convention. The Court requested the suspension of the deportation order (Rules art.39). On the same day, an order of detention of the family for 2 months was taken on the basis that they refused to board the plane to DRC.
On March 23rd 2009, the family filed a 2nd asylum claim. Immediately, another order of detention was taken for 2 months (art. 74/5 §1 2o). During their whole detention, the family made 2 requests to be released (art. 71§2) which were both denied by the appeal court of Brussels. The 2 appeals to the supreme court were also rejected. On May 4th 2009, the family was released by administrative decision. On September 2nd 2009, the family was granted refugee status by administrative decision of the Commissioner general for refugees and stateless persons (CGRA).
On November 25th 2009, the application was communicated to the agent of the Kingdom of Belgium with questions to be answered within 16 weeks. On December 13th 2011, the 2nd section of the Court found a violation of articles 3 and 5-1 for the 3 children on the ground that the immigration center “127 bis” was not tailored for their detention (Judgment Muskhadzhiyeva v. Belgium (41442/07) §63 and §75). It also found that the detention of Ms. Kanagaratnam from March 23rd 2009 to May 4th 2009 was “arbitrary” in violation of article 5-1 because of the length of her detention in a facility not tailored for families. The Court awarded the applicants €46,650 in moral damages and €4,000 in legal fees. The applicants were represented by Me Zouhaier Chihaoui (Brussels).
Mr. Tristan Wibault of the NGO Belgium Committee to Help Refugees (Comité Belge d’Aide aux Réfugiés) found the judgment to be a positive development of the case-law regarding the detention of asylum seekers.
Mayotte (Maore) is one of the 4 main islands of the Comoros. Mayotte is still administrated by France despite several UN General Assembly resolutions calling since 1976 for “France withdrawal” (A/RES/31/4, A/RES/37/65, A/RES/49/18). On January 18th 1995, the French police started requiring all citizens of the other islands of the Comoros to obtain a visa to visit Mayotte. The same year, a clandestine facility is opened in Pamandzi to detain migrants awaiting deportation.
On January 19th 2004, article 1 of the executive order DOMA0300056A “legalized” the clandestine facility as the immigration detention center of Pamandzi (Centre de Retention Administratif). Today, the conditions of detention in this center are still by exception not regulated by the French code of migration and asylum.
On April 14th 2008, the French National Commission of the Ethic of Security (CNDS) released a report on his visit of the center (2007-135, 2007-136). It found 3 large immigration cells, 4 showers, 6 restrooms and a police custody cell. The chief of the center admitted to detain up to 220 migrants including children despite an “unofficial maximum capacity” of 60. Migrants were locked into cells and forced to sit, eat and sleep on the floor due to the absence of furniture. There was no access to health care and to legal assistance. On November 20th 2008, the Commissioner for Human Rights Hammarberg “urged that the living conditions of foreigners held in Mayotte be improved immediately” (CommDH(2008)34 VII-11).
On December 17th 2008, Amnesty International stated in a press release that the “conditions in the center amount to inhuman and degrading treatment“. It published a video of the center taken on October 22nd 2008 (see video below). At that date, 41 children and 161 adults were detained in the center.
On July 26th 2010, the French OPCAT NPM (Controleur des lieux de privation de liberte) published his report on its visit of May 2009. It described the 3 immigration cells : one of 60m2 for men , a second of 77m2 for women and children (including babies) and a third of 35m2 as a waiting cell for everyone. The cells were overcrowded, unfurnished, dirty and fetid. The showers had no hot water. The lunch and dinner consisted of a plate of rice with meat. There was no yard for outdoor exercise and access to public phone was restricted. The detention in this center could last up to 5 days. The French NPM concluded that the conditions of detention were “appalling“. On April 2011, the documentary “Controversy islands” of Australian TV SBS highlighted the situation of migrants detained in Mayotte. In November 2011, Mr. Delage, a police union leader found the conditions in the center “inhumane“.
The conditions in the center are in violation with CPT standards (CPT/Inf/E (2002) 1) that states that the immigration detention center should “provide accommodation which is adequately-furnished, clean and in a good state of repair, and which offers sufficient living space for the numbers involved“. (..) “As regards regime activities, they should include outdoor exercise(..)” (p54).
On April 5th 2011, the 1st section of the ECHR ruled in judgment Rahimi v. Greece (8687/08) that the conditions of detention in the immigration center of Pagani were “so serious they violated the very meaning of human dignity“. The 7 Judges added that these conditions “irrespective of the length of the detention” of the applicant, amounted to “degrading treatment in breach of article 3“. The conditions in the center of Pamandzi, similar to the ones of Pagani (see video below) amount also to a violation of article 3 of the Convention.
Since April 2009, the publicly funded Christian organization CIMADE is granted permanent access to the center of Pamandzi to provide legal assistance. More than 60,000 migrants have been detained since then. But according to Ms. Ballestrero (CIMADE Mayotte chapter), her organization didn’t advise any detained migrants to obtain compensation for the violation of article 3 of the Convention.
In France, there is no requirement for uniformed and plainclothes police officers to display their name or their administrative number or to show their police card upon request. Furthermore, the name and number of the police officer are not on the side of the card shown to the public [pic]. Some police officers are also using masks, hoods and scarfs to hide their identity, which is an infraction punished by a fine of up to €150 and a mandatory “citizenship class” (article 1 of Law 2010-1192).
On October 14th 2011, the tribunal of Paris ordered 7 French internet service providers to censor the website Copwatch Nord-Paris IDF on the ground that it was collecting and publishing photos of police officers. On November 4th 2011, the supreme court (Cour de cassation) ruled that TF1 journalists should have obtained from police officers, written consents to revealing their name in a documentary (case 10-24761), even though the journalists had already their written consents to filming.
Citizens filming police officers committing violent acts are automatically committing the infraction of complicity (art.222-33-3 of the penal code) which is punished by up to 20 years in prison in case of torture. If they publish the video, it is an offense that carry a maximum penalty of 5 years in jail and a €75,000 fine (art.222-33-3 of the penal code).
The practice for police officers to hide their identity and the French legal framework prohibit effectively today the identification of police officers in case of an allegation of violation of articles 2 or 3 of the Convention. It is in violation of article 45 of the European Code of Police Ethics (Rec(2001)10) that states : “Police personnel shall during intervention normally be in a position to give evidence of their (..) professional identity.”
CPT standards stated that suspects should be informed of “the identity (name and/or number)” of the police officers present in the interrogation room (I-37 p7). Amnesty International raised the difficulty to identify French police officers following allegations of violations of articles 2 or 3 of the Convention (Report EUR 21/006/2005 The effective impunity of law enforcement officers..2.9). It recommended that France “ensure that police officers are identifiable by members of the public at all times via individual identity number badges and that police officers be obliged to state their identity number to members of the public on demand.”(EUR 21/005/2008 2.3).
On November 30th 2011, the French Ombudsman published his opinion on the case 2009-112. On November 18th 2009, Mr. A a political science student alleged to have been pepper sprayed twice, racially insulted and threatened with assault by 2 police officers in riot gear. The police investigation was closed with no suspect interrogated on the ground that they couldn’t “identify” the police officers involved. The Ombudsman recommends in his opinion that police officers in riot gear should be identifiable.
On October 11th 2011, the 4th section of the ECHR stated that masked police officers “should be required to visibly display some anonymous means of identification – for example a number or letter” (Hristovi v. Bulgaria (42697/05) §92). It added the practice of police officers to mask their face confers them a “virtual impunity” making any investigation not “effective” (§93).
Therefore, the practice of French police officers to be non identifiable could result in violations of articles 2 or 3 of the Convention.
On August 27th 2005, Mr. Douet was driving home at night. His car was stopped by military police officers. 2 military police officers beat him up and arrested him. During his police custody, he was examined by a doctor (art.63-3 of the code of penal procedure) who found him “unfit for police custody“, due to his multiple wounds. Informed of the medical certificate, the prosecutor of the tribunal of Clermont-Ferrand ordered his release from police custody but didn’t open any investigation.
On September 5th 2005, Mr Douet pressed criminal charges for “aggravated assault” by filing a complain to the prosecutor. The prosecutor decided to close the investigation without charging any military police officers. On November 22th 2005, he pressed charges again by filing a complain to an investigative judge. On December 12th 2007, the investigative judge charged 2 military police officers.
On July 3rd 2008, the 2 military police officers were acquitted by the tribunal of Clermont-Ferrand. The prosecutor didn’t appeal the acquittal. On April 1st 2009, the appeal court of Riom rejected the civil claim for damages of Mr. Douet On July 8th 2009, the supreme court refused to hear his appeal.
On March 10th 2010, Mr. Douet filed an application to the ECHR on the ground that his beat up by military police officers was a violation of article 3 of the Convention. He added that the fact that he couldn’t appeal the acquittal of the 2 military police officers (art.497 of the code of penal procedure) was a violation of article 13. On September 29th 2011, the application was communicated to the agent of the French Republic with questions to be answered within 16 weeks. The applicant is represented by Me Jean-François Canis (Clermont-Ferrand) who didn’t answer our email for comments.
On March 10th 1999, Mr Portmann was arrested in a house in Urnäsch as a suspect in an investigation on a bank robbery. Unnamed Swiss police officers handcuffed his hands in his back, shackled his feet, and placed a hood on his entire head.
The suspect was transported, handcuffed, shackled and hooded to the police station of Herisau where he was interrogated in the same condition by an investigative judge. He exercised his right to remain silent during the interrogation and the investigative judge ordered his detention. Then masked police officers removed his hood and requested him to sign a transcript of the interrogation. Upon his refusal, they placed the hood again on his head. He was detained in a basement cell before being transported to the police station of Trugen. There police officers removed his handcuff, shackle and hood.
On April 4th 2006, the applicant press charges by filing a complain to an investigative judge. On May 3rd 2006, the investigative judge closed the investigation on the ground that hooding was “standard police protocol” for suspects considered “dangerous” by police. No witness were interviewed in the investigation. On July 24th 2006, the prosecutor rejected the appeal of the applicant on the ground that hooding was necessary to keep “the anonymity of the police officers“. He refused to examine the allegation of violation of article 3 of the Convention and to award legal aid to the applicant.
On September 19th 2006, Mr. Portmann filed pro se an application to the ECHR on the ground that the condition of his arrest and his detention were a violation of article 3. He added that lack of access to a tribunal and the lack of effective remedy were both a violation of articles 6-1 and 13. On November 3rd 2009, the application was communicated to the agent of the Swiss government.
On October 11th 2011, Judge Jočienė (Lithuania), Judge Björgvinsson (Iceland), Judge Malinverni (Switzerland), Judge Sajó (Hungary), Judge Karakaş (Turkey) and Judge Tulkens (Belgium) of the Court found no violation of article 3 on the surprising grounds that “the applicant could breathe through the hood“, “that he didn’t try to remove it” and that a “police officer was watching him almost at all time“.
In his dissenting opinion, Judge Pinto de Albuquerque (Portugal) found a violation of article 3 of the Convention based on the case-law of human rights courts and bodies (ECHR, CIDH, CAT, CPT, CCPR), on findings of the ICRC, ICRT and U.N special rapporteur on torture and on the facts of the case. He concluded that the hooding of the applicant was “unlawful“, “disproportionate”, “useless“, “objectively degrading” and an “inhumane and degrading treatment“.
In 2004, Ms. A.Y arrived from Guinea to claim asylum. She alleged to have been detained, tortured and raped by military officers in 2003 due to her political activity in U.F.R party. In May 2005, she moved in with her partner a EU citizen from Netherlands. In 2006, she suffered an miscarriage which ended her pregnancy. On June 4th 2009, Ms. A.Y and her partner registered a civil partnership (PACS)with the intent to get married at a later date.
On May 2nd 2008, the national court of asylum (CNDA) rejected her appeal on the decision of the asylum officers of OFPRA to deny her asylum. On May 5th 2009, the prefect in Annecy ordered her deportation to Guinea due to her “unlawful” stay. On May 15th 2009, Ms. A.Y filed an application to the ECHR on the ground that she will be submitted to torture (art.3), separated from her partner (art.8) and not able to get married (art.12) if deported. The French government suspended the deportation order following request from the E.C.H.R (art.39).
The French government never transposed the articles 2-2-b) and 3-2-b) of the directive 2004/38/EC in national law (code of migration and asylum). These articles allow registered partner and partner in durable relation with a EU citizen to obtain a 5 years residence card upon registration. The deadline of the transposition of the directive 2004/38/EC was April 30th 2006. On July 25th 2008, the European Court of Justice ruled in case Metock (C-127/08) that any EU citizen’s family member have legal status under the directive 2004/38/EC irrespective of the lawfulness of his entry or stay before becoming a family member (99). The Court added an unlawful stay before becoming a family member can’t be a ground for deportation of the family member (97).
In its observation to the Court, the French government didn’t allege that the personal conduct of Ms. A.Y represents any “threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society” . But it stated if the applicant is deported to Guinea, the couple could live there.
In its decision of October 11st 2011, the Court found that the deportation order to Guinea was in “accordance with the law“. On the contrary, the deportation order on the ground of “unlawful stay” (art. L511-1 of the code of migration and asylum) was taken in violation of articles 3-2-b) and 27 of the directive 2004/38/EC and the ECJ judgment Metock (C-127/08). The Court added that from May 2005 to April 2009, the couple couldn’t have a “legitimate expectation that right of residence would be granted to the applicant“. On the opposite, the applicant should have a legitimate expectation that the French government will respect the directive 2004/38/EC and the case-law of the European Court of Justice, and acknowledge her right of residence.
Finally, the Court ruled the application inadmissible as manifestly ill-founded on the surprising ground that if Ms. A.Y is deported to Guinea her EU citizen partner could live with her. But there is no provision under the Guinean immigration executive order 94/059 to grant an immigrant visa and a residence card to the partner or spouse of a citizen of Guinea. On the opposite, Ms. A.Y could live with her partner in any of the 27 countries of the European Union under articles 2-2-b), 3-2-b) and 7 of the directive 2004/38/EC.
This decision A.Y v. France (25579/09) raises serious concerns about the respect of the European Union Law and the case law of the European Court of Justice, by the European Court of Human Rights. The applicant was represented by Me Michele Blanc (Annecy).
In 1987, Mr. Djamel Beghal arrived in France to pursue studies at the age of 22 years old. In 1993, he became a French citizen. On October 1st 2001, he was extradited from U.A.E to France. On March 15th 2005, the tribunal of Paris condemned him to 10 years in jail for “preparing a terrorist attack” on the U.S embassy in Paris. On December 14th 2005, the appeal court of Paris confirmed the sentence, even there was unsufficient evidence according to U.S diplomatic cable 05PARIS3118 revealed by Wikileaks.
On December 23rd 2006, the French government stripped the applicant from his French citizenship and on September 19th 2007, took an order to deport him to his country of birth Algeria.
On May 26th 2009, the emergency request of the applicant to suspend the deportation order to Algeria was rejected by the administrative tribunal of Paris. On May 27th 2009, Mr. Beghal filed an application to the ECHR on the ground that he will be submitted to torture (art.3) and separated from his French wife and 4 childrens (art.8) if deported. On May 28th 2009, the ECHR requested the French government to suspend the order of deportation awaiting its decision on the application.
On May 30th 2009, the French government refused to comply with the request of the ECHR and attempted to deport the applicant at the airport Paris-Orly. French Police officers only stopped their attempt of deportation after being served with an emergency order from the administrative tribunal of Paris.
On May 22th 2010, the applicant was arrested and became a suspect in a police investigation. Surprisingly, on September 6th 2011, the ECHR found the application inadmissible on the ground that the applicant “couldn’t” be deported during investigation and decided to cancel its request to suspend the deportation order.
But the deportation order has not been canceled or suspended by the French government as there is no provision in the French law that allows to cancel or suspend the deportation order of a suspect in a police investigation. The applicant was represented by Me Bérenger Tourné (Paris).
On April 26th 2007, the Court found a violation of articles 13 and 3 of the Convention in judgment Gebremedhin v. France (25389/05), on the ground that the emergency appeal of the applicant on the refusal to admit him in France to file his asylum claim, didn’t automatically suspend his removal. The applicant was advised by Me Jean-Eric Malabre (Limoges/Paris) and the NGO Anafe submitted observations amicus curiae to the Court.
On November 21th 2007, article 34 of the law 2007-1631 modified article L213-9 of the immigration and asylum code. It now allows asylum seekers who are denied entry, to appeal this decision to the administrative tribunal. Their removal is suspended for 48 hours or until the decision of the tribunal if an appeal is filed.
According to the report (see below) of the French ombudsman(mediateur de la Republique) and the French NHRI (CNCDH), the new remedy lacks effectiveness as asylum seekers who are denied entry, are detained and have only 48 hours to file their appeal (case Ma. v. France (4920/08) communicated). Moreover they don’t qualify for legal aid (article 3 of law 91-647) and have to finance their own lawyer and their own interpreter to file the appeal. They added that further appeals to the administrative appeal court and to the administrative supreme court (conseil d’etat) don’t suspend the removal (case Se v. France (10085/08) communicated).
Furthermore, citizens who didn’t state their intent to claim asylum before being denied entry, don’t benefit from the suspension of their removal during their appeal, even they fear a violation of article 3 if deported. Ms. Laure Blondel from the NGO Anafe gave us the following example. On February 22th and 23th 2011, the French border police attempted to deport a Senegalese citizen to Libya notwithstanding that an hearing was scheduled on February 24th 2011 on his emergency appeal.
On May 28th 2011, the applicants submitted their case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that their deportations to n/a will be a violation of articles 2 and 3 of the Convention. They added that the detention of their 7 months old baby in the immigration facility of n/a was a violation of articles 3 and 5-1-f). Finally, they complained that there was no proceeding to rule on the lawfulness of their detention and to release them if their detention was unlawful (habeas corpus), in violation of article 5-4.
The applicants are represented by Me Jerome Canadas (Toulouse) who didn’t return our emails.
n/a : non available on the Hudoc database of the Court.
From April 9th to April 18th 2008, the applicant accused of armed robbery, appeared at the criminal court of Pau. Each day of court appearance, the applicant was strip searched naked for up to 8 times and asked by masked guards of the ERIS to bend over and/or squat. When the applicant was bending over and/or squatting, the ERIS guards were doing a visual inspection of his anus. These acts were videotaped by one of the guard. On April 11th 2008, the applicant refused to squat. Nevertheless the masked guards coerced him to squat naked. Later in the day, they forcibly removed his clothes, coerced him to squat naked and forced him to appear in court.
On April 11th 2008, the judge presiding the criminal court ruled that he couldn’t order the ERIS guards to stop these acts. On April 15th 2008, the judge of the administrative tribunal of Pau ruled that only the judges of the criminal court of Pau could order the ERIS guards to stop. On November 14th 2008, the administrative supreme court annulled the ruling of the administrative tribunal of Pau (case 315622) but refused to rule on the violation of article 3 of the Convention.
On October 15th 2008, the applicant submitted his case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the multiple strip searches, the bending over, the coerced squatting, the visual inspection of his anus and the videotaping of these acts were violations of articles 3 and 8 of the Convention. He added that the lack of effective remedy was a violation of article 13 and also that these acts prevented him to defend himself during the trial in violation of articles 6-1 and 6-3. On June 16th 2009, the application was communicated to the agent of the French government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks.
On January 20th 2011, the Court found a violation of article 3 of the Convention on the ground that the multiple strip searches, the bending over, the forced squatting. and their videotaping by masked guards were overall a degrading treatment. The Court also found that the applicant didn’t have any effective remedy to obtain redress, in violation of article 13 but forgot to examine the allegations of violations of articles 6-1 and 6-3.
The applicant was represented by Me Patrice Spinosi (Paris) who was not available for comments.
On October 15th 2009, Mr. Michel Duval was detained pending investigation. On February 3rd 2000, he was handcuffed and shackled during an ultrasound test at the hospital of Laon. Prison guards and police officers were present in the room during the test. On October 1st 2004, he was again handcuffed and shackled for a cardiac test at the hospital of Amiens. On May 14th, 15th, 18th 2005, he was detained under the same security measures for a cardiac test at the hospital of Laon and on June 14th 2005 for an ultrasound test.
On September 28th 2005, handcuffed and shackled, he had a digital rectal exam in front of 2 prison guards in the hospital of Laon. These security measures were taken under an executive order JUSK0440155C of the minister of Justice of November 18th 2004.
On October 15th 2007, the administrative supreme court (conseil d’etat) rejected the motion of the applicant to have the executive order JUSK0440155C annulled.
On April 15th 2008, the applicant submitted his case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that to be shackled and handcuffed during medical exams in front of police officers and prison guards was a violation of articles 3 and 8 of the Convention. He added that the condition of detention during the transfers to the hospital were in violation of article 3. On September 14th 2009, the application was communicated to the agent of the French government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks.
On May 26th 2011, the Court found a violation of article 3 of the Convention on the ground that the security measures and the presence of guards during the medical exams were a degrading treatment.
The applicant was represented by Me Patrice Spinosi (Paris) who was not available for comments.
In France, more than 30,000 asylum seekers who have the right to be housed in special centers (CADA) are being denied this right in violation of article L348-1 of the social and family code and have to wait on average 13 months before being housed in these centers. Thousands of asylum seekers are then forced to homelessness with or without an allowance of €10,83 per day in violation of articles 13 and 14 of the European directive 2003/9/EC. They survive from food handout from charity organizations and every night have to request by phone a bed in a homeless shelter which are often already full.
In the city of Rennes, dozens of asylum seekers became homeless. On February 25th 2011, the NGO “Droit au Logement” occupied an abandoned government building (280 rue de Fougeres) and opened it to 80 asylum seekers. On March 1st 2011, the prefect obtained without any hearing, a possession order from a judge of tribunal of Rennes (art.808 of the code of civil procedure).
On March 4th 2011, 13 asylum seekers and 5 children, submitted an application for interim measures (art.39 of the rules of the Court) to request the suspension of the possession order of March 1st 2011 and to have the prefect offer them immediately appropriate housing (see below). They are represented by Me Melanie Le Verger (Rennes). She argued that the living conditions of the applicants in France are a violation of article 3 of the Convention (M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece (30696/09)) and the decision of the judge not to hold hearing and not to communicate to the applicant the legal brief of the prefect are violations of article 6.
On March 10th 2011, the Court requested information on the legal remedies offered to the applicants to have access to decent living conditions and what measures will be taken by the prefect to ensure that the applicants have appropriate living conditions. On April 8th 2011, the agent of the government replied there is no emergency legal remedies available for homeless asylum seekers benefiting from the allowance and that the prefect gives priority in housing to sick individuals and families with babies. He added that on March 16th 2011, 8 applicants on 18 have offers of housing.
On April 29th 2011, Me Melanie Le Verger replied that 7 applicants are still living in the occupied building, 1 applicant is living in a hotel, 2 in CADA, 5 are housed in waiting centers (“pre-CADA”) and 2 have offers for housing in CADA. She also mentioned 14 new applicants and added that due to the refusal of the prefect to offer housing to new asylum seekers, the building was now housing 140 asylum seekers. According to the statistics of the prefect office in Rennes, there is 811 individuals and 93 families with children seeking asylum without any permanent offer of housing (March 30th 2011) and on those only 192 asylum seekers and 22 families are benefiting from the daily allowance.
On May 6th, the Court requested information on the 7 applicants who were still living in the occupied building. On May 25th the agent of the government informed the Court that these applicants were living in a hotel waiting for their housing in CADA. On June 16th 2011, Me Melanie Le Verger informed the Court that on June 15th 2011, the 7 applicants, Mr. A. from Somalia who is physically disabled, Ms. S. from China who is suffering from severe Hepatitis C and her husband and Ms. and Mr. E from China who have 2 babies of one and two years old are all homeless again.
On July 14th 1998, Mr. Claude Baudoin was arrested for “assault” on a hospital security guard and then detained on mental health ground by the order of the mayor of Bordeaux. On July 16th 1998, the prefect of Gironde ordered his mental health detention. He was detained in the special detention unit (UMD) of the hospital Cadillac.
On July 28th 1998, the applicant submitted a motion to be released. On May 30th 2002, the appeal court of Bordeaux rejected his motion. On February 14th 2004, the president of the supreme court denied the applicant legal aid to appeal the decision.
In several decisions, the administrative tribunal and the administrative appeal court of Bordeaux annulled all the orders of detention from July 16th 1998 to May 17th 2004 which were giving a legal basis for 6 years of detention.
On August 13th 2003, the applicant submitted his case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that his mental health detention was a violation of article 5-1-e) of the Convention, the absence of information on the ground for detention a violation of article 5-2 and his condition of detention for 6 years in hospital Cadillac was a violation of article 3 of the Convention.
He added that following his arrest he was not brought to a judge in violation of article 5-3 of the Convention, that the requirement to challenge his mental health detention both in administrative and judicial courts was a violation of articles 5-4 and 5-5, that the length of proceedings in administrative court was a violation of article 6-1, that the refusal of legal aid by the supreme court was a violation of article 6-1, that forced medical treatments and seizure of his letters by the hospital were in violation of article 8, keeping him in a detention ruled illegal by the court was also a violation of article 3 and the lack of remedies a violation of article 13. The applicant was represented by Mr Philippe Bernardet a sociology researcher of CNRS.
On July 8th 2005, the motion to be released of the applicant of June 2nd 2004 was rejected by the appeal court of Bordeaux. On February 2006, the motion of October 12th 2005 was again denied.
On September 27th 2007, the Court ruled that most of the allegations of violations of the Convention were inadmissible under articles 35-1 and 35-3 of the Convention on surprising and conflicting grounds. The Court ruled that the applicant was not arrested for “assault” on July 14th 1998 under article 5-1-c) so the allegation of violation of article 5-3 was inadmissible. This means that his arrest didn’t have any legal basis as there is no provision under French law for an arrest on mental health ground (art.5-1-e)) but the Court failed to acknowledge its own allegation of violation of article 5-1 of the Convention. Furthermore the Court ruled that the allegations of violations of article 3 and 8 of the Convention were inadmissible on the ground that the applicant didn’t submit them to the French courts. But the Court didn’t specify which remedies where available to the applicant and which case-law of the French court makes these remedies effective. The Court also found the allegation of violation article 5-5 inadmissible even though it took 7 years for the applicant to have an administrative court annulled the order of detention of July 16th 1998, and that he needed to start another litigation in a civil court to obtain damages following the administrative court ruling. The Court also found inadmissible the allegation of violation of article 5-1-e) for the mental detention of 6 years (except from October 21th 2004 to November 9th 2004) because the administrative court annulled all the orders of detention even though the applicant didn’t receive any damages for this illegal detention.
On November 18th 2010, the Court found a violation of article 5-1-e) of the Convention, on the ground that there was no order of detention from October 21st 2004 to November 9th 2004. The Court also found a violation of article 5-4 on the ground that the applicant didn’t benefit from a speedy and effective remedy . It awarded the applicant €20,000 for damages and €3,000 for his legal fees.
On June 10th 1998, Mr. Kamel Ketreb was detained without bail in the notorious prison “La Santé” awaiting trial on assault charge. He was examined several times by psychiatrists. Despite his mental illness, he was placed three times in solitary confinement as a displinary measure. During his second placement in solitary confinement, he attempted two times to hang himself according to a doctor of the prison.
On May 20th 1999, he was placed for the third time in solitary confinement for 15 days. On the same day, prison guards pepper sprayed him in his displinary cell. On May 21st 1999, he showed his injured forearms to his sister and his t-shirt was covered with blood. On May 24th 1999, a prison guard found him dead, hung to the ceiling of his cell. On June 17th 1999, the prosecutor of the Republic of Paris closed his administrative investigation on the cause of death and didn’t request the opening of a criminal investigation.
On July 27th 1999, the sister of Mr. Ketreb filed a criminal complain to the investigating judge for “involuntary manslaughter“.
In January 2000, Doctor Veronique Vasseur published a book on his experience of 8 years as the chief doctor of the ethnically segregated prison “La Santé”. She described nightmarish condition of detention and the lack of access to health care for detainees suffering from mental illness. The book stirred such an outcry that a group of Senators opened a full investigation with public hearings and visits of French prisons. On June 29th 2000, they published an extensive report on the condition of detention in French prisons with alarming conclusions. It confirmed many of the findings that the CPT made following its visits of the prison “La Santé” in 1996 and 2000.
On April 8th 2008, an investigating judge sent the ex-director of the prison “La Santé” and the health care provider AP-HP to trial. But the prosecutor of the Republic of Paris, Jean-Claude Marin appealed the decision to the judges of the investigation chamber of the appeal court of Paris. On December 3rd 2008, the 3 judges of the investigation chamber dismissed all charges.
On June 3rd 2009, the applicants, sisters of Mr. Ketreb submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the absence of health care in the prison and lack of surveillance of their brother were a violation of article 2 of the Convention. They added that the disciplinary measures of solitary confinement were a violation of article 3 of the Convention. They are represented by Me J. Bertrand (Paris). On March 29th 2010, the application was communicated to the agent of the French government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks.
On February 27th 2011, Mr. Jean-Marie Delarue controller of the French detention facilities refused to communicate us the report of his 2009 visit of the prison “La Santé” even though the French FOIA agency (CADA) was favorable to this release (2011/0462). Mr Jean-Marie Delarue is also one of 4 adhoc judges submitted by the French government to the ECHR.
Mr. Skander Vogt was a Swiss citizen born in 1980. In 1995, he arrived to Switzerland with his sister and both were placed into foster care. In 1996, he was deported from Switzerland to Tunisia. In 1997, he was back to Switzerland.
On January 2001, he was condemned to 20 months in jail for minor offenses. But the judge suspended the sentence and ordered his unlimited detention on the ground of the “mental health” of Mr. Vogt to prevent “endangerment of others” under the notorious article 43 of the Swiss penal code. The applicant was then transferred 19 times between various prisons (EPO, Pöschwies, Thoerberg).
On July 5th 2006, the federal tribunal rejected one of his motion for conditional release.
On November 20th 2006, he submitted an application (see below) to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that his unlimited detention in a prison from June 2001 was in a violation of articles 5 and 4 of protocol 7 of the Convention and that the solitary confinement in “high security wing” and the transfers between prisons were a violation of article 3 of the Convention. He added that the refusal to grant his motion for conditional release were taken in violation of article 6 of the Convention. He is represented by Me Isabelle Coutant-Peyre (Paris).
On January 1st 2007, the article 43 of the penal code was replaced by the new article 64 of the penal code.
On February 27th 2008, his lawyer asked the Court that his application be dealt in priority due to the urgency of the questions raised (art.41 of the rules of the Court).
On March 11th 2010, the applicant is left to die in his burned cell of the prison EPO by laughing wardens and police officers. His lawyer informed the Court that the case is now being pursued by the sister of the applicant.
Today, his application is still pending more than 4 years after being filled and has still not be communicated by the Court to the agent of the Swiss government.
By the ruling 10-83204 of November 9th 2010, the French supreme court (Cour de cassation) released officially the information that Mr. H, a French scientist was arrested on October 8th 2009 at 6:05 at his home in Vienne (France). He was interrogated by police officers in the absence of his lawyer during a police custody which lasted 91h25. He was then detained under an arrest warrant issued by an investigating judge (art.122 of the code of penal procedure).
According to one of his family member, Mr. H was detained ever since in the notorious prison of Fresnes pending further investigation (visit report of CPT in 2006). His police interrogation is described by the same source as “very very harsh” and from October 2009 to February 2010, Mr. H was placed in the infirmary of the prison (“national public health center of Fresnes“). Since then, he has limited access to health care and has to walk with a cane. Moreover, in January 2011, he was violently attacked by another inmate in the yard. In a letter, Mr. H describes the detention condition in the prison of Fresnes as a “permanent and multiple violations of [the] human rights [of the detainees]” and complains of the cold and humidity of his cell.
The investigation file on Mr. H and the charges he is facing 16 months after his arrest are still secret (art.11 of the code of penal procedure) as the district attorney of the tribunal of Paris, Mr. Jean-Claude Marin never released officially any information on the case. There is no indication that this secret investigation will lead to a trial.
According to his lawyer Me Dominique Beyreuther-Minkov (Paris), the attorney general of the appeal court of Paris, Mr. Francois Falletti even obtained that all the detention hearings of Mr. H are held in secret by an investigation chamber of the appeal court of Paris. This in derogation with article 199 of the code of penal procedure. She added that the rulings by the appeal court of Paris, on the detention of Mr. H, were also secret. This appears to be a violation of article R156 of the code of penal procedure.
The attorney general office of the appeal court of Paris didn’t return our email requesting official information on the cause of the arrest and detention of Mr. H, the charges he is facing, and a copy of the rulings of the appeal court of Paris on his detention pending investigation.
Following the ruling 10-83204 of November 9th 2010, his lawyer stated that she will file an application with the ECHR invoking the violation of article 6 due to the absence of his lawyer during the police interrogation.
Mr. H is also determined to file an application with the ECHR for violations of articles 5-3 and 5-4 of the Convention if his appeals of the detention rulings are rejected by the supreme court.
Update May 3rd 2011 :
On March 15th 2011, the French supreme court rejected his appeal 10-88750 on the decision of the appeal court of Paris of November 19th 2010 to reject his motion to be released pending investigation. Mr. H complained that his detention at the prison of Fresnes amounted to a violation of article 3 of the Convention due to his poor health and the lack of proper health care.
On April 5th 2011, Mr. H filed an application (21489/11) with the ECHR.
On October 22th 2008, Mr. Bertrand Rappaz was condemned to more than 5 years in jail for various offenses resulting from his activity as a farmer of marijuana. On March 2010, he was jailed at the prison des Iles in Sion.
A long time non violent and environment activist, he began an hunger strike to protest against the criminalization of the farming of marijuana and its lengthy sentence. Following a deterioration of his health, he made several requests for his sentence to be temporarily suspended for health reason (art. 92 of penal code).
He was temporarily released 2 times, and stopped his hunger strike. Once jailed again, he started a new hunger strike and was hospitalized in the penitentiary wing of the university hospital of Geneva.
On November 10th 2010, a judge ordered Dr. Hans Wolff, head of the penitentiary wing to practice forced feeding on the applicant but the doctor refused to carry it out.
On December 7th 2010, his last request (6B_1022/2010) was rejected by the federal tribunal on the ground that the “medical treatment” that he could receive will be the same whether he is detained or free. The tribunal didn’t take into account that the detained applicant was on hunger strike to protest against his detention and that Dr. Hans Wolff refused to carry out forced feeding. Moreover the ruling didn’t specify what kind of “medical treatment” the applicant could receive.
Swiss doctors and nurses associations already alerted that the forced feeding of a hunger strike patient is against the international ethics standard set by the World Medical Association (Declaration of Malta).
On December 14th 2010, the applicant filed an urgent motion under article 39 [fr], requesting that the Court order the Swiss government to temporarily suspend his sentence pending the decision of the Court. The applicant complained that the refusal to suspend his sentence was a violation of articles 2 and 3 of the Convention.
On December 16th 2010, Judge Christos Rozakis refused to grant the request. Surprisingly, Judge Christos Rozakis officially requested the applicant to stop his hunger strike thereby renouncing to his right to freedom of expression (art.10). Both decisions were unmotivated and the name of the judge is not revealed (see below). The applicant is represented by Me Aba Neeman (Monthey).
Following the decision of the Court, the applicant ceased his hunger strike and filed a complain for damages for his condition of detention in the penitentiary wing.
On December 8th 2009, Mr. Pierre Henry Martzloff was extradited from Morocco and subsequently detained in the infamous jail of Fleury-Merogis located 30km away from the French capital.
The gigantic prison was opened in 1968 and is the largest in the European Union with up to 3,500 inmates detained. The condition of detention were horrendous but the Court took 26 years after the first complain to find a violation of article 3 of the Convention.
On October 7th 1987, the European Commission of Human Rights dismissed the case Breguet v. France (11550/85) for lack of answer of the lawyer Me Jacques Verges. The applicant was condemned to 10 days in solitary confinement in Fleury Merogis for having written in a private letter that the chief of guards was “miserable“. He complained that his detention in the solitary confinement in Fleury-Merogis was a violation of article 3 of the Convention.
On March 8th 1988, the European Commission of Human Rights ruled in case Theron v. France (11422/85) that the condition of detention didn’t attain the threshold required by article 3 of the Convention. The applicant who was serving a sentence of 8 days in solitary confinement, was condemned to 15 more days for having written in a private letter that the solitary confinement in Fleury-Merogis was “white torture“. The applicant described his solitary confinement cell as very dirty and the food as disgusting. He complained that his mattress was very dirty without linen, and that he couldn’t take a shower and change his clothes more than once a week.
On July 4th 2006, the Grand Chamber of the Court ruled in case Ramirez Sanchez v. France (59450/00) that the solitary confinement of the applicant for 8 years in the 3 infamous jails (La Sante, Fresnes, Fleury-Merogis) was a not violation of article 3 of the Convention. The applicant complained that his cell was in terrible condition with no private toilet, and that the yard for daily exercise was nothing more than a large cage. Surprisingly, the Court even found the condition of detention in the solitary confinement unit of Fleury-Merogis in compliance (§130) with the Recommendation Rec(2006)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the European Prison Rules. The Court had never visited the unit.
On June 12th 2007, the Court ruled in case Frerot v. France (70204/01) that the multiple naked strip searches of the applicant in the jail of Fresnes were a violation of article 3 of the Convention (§48). The applicant complained that he was ordered to open his mouth during naked strip searches in jail of Fleury-Merogis and upon his refusal was condemned to the solitary confinement unit. Surprisingly, his lawyers Me Christophe Nicolaÿ et Me Ludovic de Lanouvelle didn’t complain about the condition of detention in the solitary confinement unit.
On September 11th 2007, the online newspaper Rue89 released a plan and pictures of cells of the solitary confinement unit of the jail of Fleury-Merogis.
On January 20th 2011, the Court found in case Payet v. France (19606/08) that the detention in the solitary confinement unit of the jail of Fleury-Merogis constituted a “degrading and inhumane treatment” (§85) and therefore a violation of article 3 of the Convention, 26 years after the first application made by Mr. Bruno Breguet in 1985.
On December 18th 2008, the daily newspaper Le Monde released an extract of a 2h30 video of the regular unit of the jail, shot clandestinely by detainees. On April 2th 2009, the state television France 2 showed a documentary on the jail with 40mn of footage from the clandestine video (see below).
In the case Martzloff v. France (6183/10), the applicant complained that his cell is very cold because of broken windows, that he have to use the toilet in front of other detainees and that the communal showers are broken. According to him, the exercise yard lacks toilet and showers and is full of dead rats bodies. These allegations are confirmed by the clandestine video and the NGO OIP. On February 1st 2011, the application was communicated to the agent of the French government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks. The applicant is not represented by a lawyer.
In 20 years and during its 11 visits to France, the CPT of the Council of Europe never visited the largest jail of the European Union (except the young offender site located outside of the main compound in 1996).
After a first reading of Bill 563 at the National Assembly on November 25th 2010 (see previous post), the Bill 563 was sent back to the Senate for a second reading.
On November 30th 2010, at the 1100th meeting of the Committee of Ministers, it was announced that France didn’t submit yet any observation regarding the general measures taken following judgment Medvedev (3394/03) on March 29th 2010.
On 7th December 2010, the rapporteur Senator Dulait couldn’t answer the question of the president of the foreign affairs commission on how the release of the detainee will be organized following a judge order, as there is no provision in Bill 563 for this occurrence.
On December 22th 2010, Senator Boutant questioned the compliance of Bill 363 with the judgments Medvedyev v. France (3394/03) and Moulin v. France (37104/06) as the arrest of a sailor is not notified to a judge (art.5-1-c) but to the prosecutor of the Republic and there is no provision for detainee to have access to a lawyer (art.6-1, 6-3). Mr. de Raincourt representing the defense minister at the hearing, answered that he didn’t want to discuss this mater because it was not “his mission“.
A few minutes later, Bill 563 was passed by the Senate with no amendment. On January 5th 2011, President Sarkozy signed Bill 563 into Law 2011-13.
Law 2011-13 allows in derogation of the code of penal procedure, the arrest and the indefinite incommunicado detention of sailors who were on board ships which are suspected of drug trafficking, attempt of illegal entry in France or piracy. Law 2011-13 creates a French Guantanamo in the high seas.
Following our request for comments on our previous post, Mr. Tobias Thienel a contributor to the Invisible College Blog of the School of Human Rights Research, submitted us the following opinion on Bill 563 (see below).
The court docket of the ECHR contains two pending cases on the arrest and detention in high seas. Case Vassis and others v. France (62736/09) on the detention of the sailors of Junior was filed on October 29th 2009. Case Samatar and others v. France (17301/10) regarding the detention of Somali citizens pending the opening of an investigation on the hostage taking aboard the Ponant, was filed on March 16th 2010. Both have not yet been communicated to France
On August 15th 1994, Mr. Ramirez Sanchez a citizen of Venezuela was abducted in Sudan and then victim of an extrajudicial rendition to France carried out by officers of the French domestic intelligence agency (DST).
From August 15th 1994 to October 17th 2002, he was placed in solitary confinement and transferred between the 3 infamous jails in the Paris region (La Sante, Fresnes, Fleury-Merogis) by decisions of the administration of the ministry of Justice on unknown ground.
On June 24th 1996, the European Commission of Human Rights ruled in case Ramirez Sanchez v. France (28780/95) that the abduction and the extrajudicial rendition to France were not a violation of articles 3 and 5 of the Convention.
On December 25th 1997, he was condemned to life in prison for the murder on June 27th 1975 in Paris of 2 officers of DST and one agent of an unknown agency, in unclear circumstances. From October 17th 2002 to March 18th 2004, he was transferred to the prison of Saint-Maur and placed in a normal unit.
From March 19th 2004 to January 5th 2006, he was again placed in solitary confinement and transferred again between the 3 infamous jails (La Sante, Fresnes, Fleury-Merogis) because he talked about politics to a journalist. From January 5th 2006, he was transferred to the prison of Clairvaux and placed in a normal unit.
On July 4th 2006, the Grand Chamber of the E.C.H.R ruled by 12 votes against 5 votes, in case Ramirez Sanchez v. France (59450/00), that the solitary confinement the applicant for 8 years (1994-2002) was not a violation of article 3 on the ground that… the applicant would have talk about politics with other inmates (§149). In solitary confinement the applicant was waken up every hour of the night by prison wardens (§95).
The Grand Chamber ruled also that the absence of a domestic remedy to challenge a decision of solitary confinement was a violation of article 13 for the first period (1994-2002). The applicant was represented by Me Isabelle Coutant Peyre (Paris).
For the second period (2004-2006), the Grand Chamber ruled that since the administrative supreme court judgment Remli v. minister of Justice no 252712 on July 30th 2003, the administrative tribunal was a “remedy” to challenge of decision of solitary confinement. It then didn’t find a violation of article 13 and didn’t examine the violation of article 3 because of this remedy (§113). Surprisingly, the Court didn’t examine the effectiveness of the remedy of the administrative tribunal even though the applicant was questioning it in its observations of October 3rd 2005 (§3) and December 30th 2005 (§3).
Mr. Remli was serving in solitary confinement a sentence after an unfair trial (judgment Remli v. France (16839/90)). The administrative supreme court judgment Remli v. minister of Justice no 252712 on July 30th 2003 ruled that the decision of …June 18th 1998 to detain the plaintiff in solitary confinement was “illegal” but it didn’t award him damages and didn’t find a violation of articles 3 or 8 the Convention. No disciplinary or criminal action were taken against the chief of prison following the ruling.
The remedy of the administrative court system is a lengthy one. It can take up to 2 and a half years for the administrative tribunal to rule on the legality of the solitary confinement decision (administrative appeal court of Paris, judgment 09PA05734 on October 14th 2010) which is not suspended pending ruling.
Although article 726-1 of the code of penal procedure (law 2009-1436) allows a detainee to file for an “urgent ruling” within 48 hours on the solitary confinement decision, it is constant case-law that the solitary confinement decision is inadmissible to be ruled within 48 hours (administrative supreme court judgment 337534 on March 22th 2010).
On February 15th 2006, the Commissioner for Human Rights Mr. Alvaro Gil-Robles stated in his report following a visit to French prisons in 2005 : “Prisoners placed in solitary confinement have no effective administrative remedy at their disposal” (§133).
On December 2007, the CPT stated in its report CPT/Inf (2007)44 following a visit to French prisons in autumn 2006, that for the remedy to the administrative tribunal to be effective, the solitary confinement decision should be admissible to be ruled within 48 hours. The CPT also found that detainees were not informed of their rights to appeal the decision (§157).
In September 2009, the 4th edition of the ministry of Justice “handbook for new inmates” didn’t inform about the remedy to the local administrative tribunal on a solitary confinement decision (see below p50).
On April 2010, the French N.G.O OIP stated in its observations to the U.N Committee against Torture : “Remedies against such measures are limited” (p21).
Surprisingly, on November 30th 2010, the Committee of Ministers ruled in its Resolution CM/ResDH(2010)162 that article 726-1 of the code of penal procedure and case-law administrative supreme court judgment Remli v. minister of Justice no 252712 were satisfying as general measures to prevent violation of article 13 of the Convention.
Recommendation Rec(2004)6 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the improvement of domestic remedies states : However, the remedy required must be “effective” in law as well as in practice; – this notably requires that it be able to prevent the execution of measures which are contrary to the Convention and whose effects are potentially irreversible; (..) the “effectiveness” of a “remedy” within the meaning of Article 13 (..) implies a certain minimum requirement of speediness.
On October 13th 2010, the ministry of Justice introduced Bill 2855 to the National Assembly (House of Representative of the French Republic) to reform police custody to comply with articles 6-1 and 6-3 of the Convention. On November 29th 2010, Human Rights Watch submitted a brief on Bill 2855 to the Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly.
Representative Philippe Houillon (UMP) submitted amendments proposals CL108, CL109, CL110, CL111 , CL117 (see below) to the Bill 2855, in order comply with judgment Moulin v. France (37104/06).
The amendments proposals CL108 and CL109 require that police custody are under the control of a judge instead of a prosecutor in compliance with article 5-1-c) of the Convention. The explanatory note of CL108 names this new control a French “habeas corpus“. But CL108 doesn’t comply with article 5-4 of the Convention as there is no provision allowing the lawyer of the detainee to file a release motion with the judge (Zervudacki v. France (73947/01)).
CL110 and CL111 require all detention in police custody over 24 hours to be ordered by a judge.
Lastly, CL117 makes mandatory to bring suspect before a judge if they are not released by the prosecutor following police custody. Unfortunately, this is not in compliance with article 5-3 of the Convention as police custody can last up to 2 to 6 days in France, and the time limit to be brought before a judge is not set.
Moreover, it could be the same judge who ordered the detention over 24 hours and who later control this same order.
Update : On December 15th, the Legal Affairs Committee voted in favor of amendments CL108 and CL109 but against CL111 and CL117. CL110 was removed by the Representative Philippe Houillon.
Mr.Nicolas Cocaign is suffering from a severe mental illness (schizophrenia). Following his release from jail in summer 2005, the prefect of Hauts-de-Seine ordered his detention in a mental health center. Nevertheless, he was again detained in jail (cf. Case Patoux v. France).
On January 3rd 2007, he was suspected to have killed one of his cellmate in the overcrowded jail Bonne Nouvelle in Rouen and eat a part of his lung. On January 17th 2007, he was condemned to 45 days disciplinary cell for “violence” to the deceased cellmate, under article D249-1 of the code of penal procedure. On January 22th 2007, the prefect of Yvelines ordered his detention in the mental health center “Centre hospitalier Paul Guiraud“. After 2 weeks of detention in the mental health center, the applicant was transferred to jail of Bois d’Arcy to complete his 40 days of disciplinary detention. He filed an appeal of this disciplinary sentence at the administrative tribunal of Melun.
On October 26th 2007, a court-ordered report by 2 psychiatrists established that the applicant was legally insane at the time of the murder, under article L122-1 of the penal code. Nevertheless, on June 24th 2010, the applicant was condemned to 30 years in prison by the criminal court of Rouen. No appeal were filed.
On July 17th 2007, the applicant filed an application with the E.C.H.R arguing that the disciplinary hearing commission ruled in violation of article 6-1, that the 45 days in a disciplinary cell, the lack of appropriate health care and the solitary confinement since then were violations of article 3, and the lack of remedies following a violation of article 3 in jail was a violation of article 13. On September 28th 2009, the application was communicated to the agent of the French Republic with questions to be answered before 16 weeks. The applicant is represented by Me Fabien Picchiottino (Rouen) who didn’t return our email.
On November 3rd 2011, the Court found no violation of article 3 of the Convention on the ground that the Court was not informed of the condition of detention in disciplinary cells (81). Surprisingly, the Court didn’t answer the allegation that solitary confinement for more than 4 years was a violation of article 3 of the Convention.
On January 16th 2000, Ms. Sonja Suder and her partner Mr. Christian Gauger were arrested following an extradition request from Germany for an investigation on crimes committed for political reasons from 1975 to 1978. The couple have been living in France since the 1980s. On March 22th 2000, they were both released.
On March 28th 2001, the investigation chamber of the court of appeal of Paris ruled against the extradition of the applicants to Germany on the ground that the crime committed from 1975 to 1978, could not longer be prosecuted under French statute of time limitation.
On October 30th 2007, the applicants were again arrested following a new request from Germany for the same investigation on crimes committed for political reasons from 1975 to 1978. On November 14th 2007, Mr. Gauger was released from thejail of La Santé, and on November 28th 2007, Ms. Suder was released from jail of Fresnes.
On February 25th 2009, the investigation chamber of the court of appeal of Paris ruled in favor of the extradition of the applicants to Germany. On May 27th 2009, the supreme court rejected the appeal from Ms. Suder (09-81731) and from Mr. Gauger (09-81732).
On July 29th 2009, the prime minister signed a decree of extradition for both applicants. On December 3rd 2010, the administrative supreme court rejected the appeals of both applicants (334683 and 334684) on the decree of extradition.
On October 22th 2010, the applicants filed two applications Gauger v.France (61393/10) and Suder v. France (61467/10) with the E.C.H.R arguing that the extradition of Ms. Suder (77 years) and Mr. Gauger who suffered a brain stroke in 1997, will be a violation of article 2,3 and 8, and that the new ruling on the new request for the extradition of the applicants was a violation of article 6-1 and article 4 of protocole 7. The applicants are represented by Me Irene Terrel (Paris).
In December 2010, the Court rejected the application for suspension of the extradition proceeding (art.39). On September 14th 2011, the applicants were arrested and extradited to Germany to be detained in prison.
In 1998, Ms. Marie-Claude Patoux was detained in a psychiatric ward following a personal conflict with her ex-doctor T. She became a fugitive after a temporary release at an unknown date. On December 17th 2002, she was condemned for a “premeditated assault with no bodily injury” (art.222-13 of penal code) on T. to 3 years of probation. In 2005, she was arrested again for “premeditated assault with no bodily injury“.
On March 29th 2006, she was arrested and detained in police custody being suspect of “premeditated assault with no bodily injury” on T. on the same day. On March 30th 2006, she was detained by an order of the mayor of Villiers-Saint-Paul under article L3213-2 of the code of public health. This order allows the detention for up to 48h, of patient suffering from mental illness who are “an imminent threat to public safety“. She was transferred to the notorious mental health center “CHI Clermont Oise” . On March 31th 2006, the prefect of Oise ordered her detention for one month in this health center, despite the lack of an eligible medical certificate, in violation of article L3213-1 of the code of public health.
On April 3rd 2006, the husband of the applicant filed a motion at the tribunal of Beauvais to have his wife immediately released . On April 26th 2006, the prefect of Oise ordered the detention of the applicant for 3 months. On May 14th 2006, the applicant became a fugitive for failing to return to the health center after an authorization of the prefect for a 2 days temporary release. On May 19th 2006, the judge denied the habeas corpus motion for release 46 days after the application.
On June 26th 2006, the applicant was condemned by the tribunal of Senlis to 12 months in jail for a “premeditated assault with no bodily injury” in 2005 and a warrant was issued for her arrest. On 30th July 2006, the prefect of Oise ordered the detention of the fugitive applicant for 6 months. On September 13th 2006, the applicant was arrested and detained at the jail of Beauvais pending trial at the appeal court of Amiens.
On January 31th 2007, the appeal court of Amiens ruled on the appeal. On February 5th 2007, the applicant was condemned by the tribunal of Senlis to 9 months in jail for a “premeditated assault with no bodily injury” on March 29th 2006. On October 17th 2007, the appeal court of Amiens condemned the applicant to a lesser sentence of 4 months in jail.
On May 19th 2008, the applicant was released from jail.
On August 21th 2006, the couple Patoux filed an application with the E.C.H.R arguing that the detention in the health center was a violation of articles 5-1-e) and 5-2, that the ruling on the motion for release from the ward was a violation of article 5-4, that the forced medication was a violation of article 8, that the applicant was not brought to a judge after her arrest in violation of article 5-3, and that the detention of the applicant in the jail of Beauvais with no access to health care, was in violation of article 3. They also complained that the rulings on the motion for release from jail pending trial was a violation of article 5-4. On June 30th 2009, the application was communicated to the agent of the French government with questions to be answered before 16 weeks. The applicants were not yet represented.
In June 2009, the national regulatory body for health centers (Haute Autorite de Sante) issued a report on the “CHI Clermont Oise“. It states that the condition of detention are degrading (21b) and that the patient consent into taking medications is not recorded (20a). A review was announced before November 2010. The mental health center didn’t answer our email for comments.
On April 14th 2011, the Court ruled that the wait of the applicant for 46 days before the judge rule on its habeas corpus was a violation of article 5-4 of the Convention. It condemned the French Republic to pay the applicant €5,000 of damages for n and €2,500 for the legal fees.
Surprisingly, the Court found the allegation of violations of article 3 due to the lack of health care in the jail of Beauvais to be inadmissible (art.35-1) because the applicant should have invoke these allegations in her motion to be release from jail pending trial (§58). The 5th section of the Court seems to ignore that there is no provision in the code of penal procedure to be released from detention pending trial, for health reasons or violations of article 3 of the Convention.
On April 1st 2011, the bill 400 was filed at the Senate to introduce a provision allowing judges to suspend detention pending trial on health ground.
The applicant was represented by Me Raphael Mayet (Versailles).
From October 3rd 2004 to November 22th 2005, Mr. Luc Lienhardt was detained pending investigation at the jail of Saint-Paul in the second largest city in France, Lyon. On January 19th 2006, a court-ordered report on the conditions of detention was released.
It was revealed that the jail was overcrowded to a critical point. More than 800 detainees were detained in that jail built for 360 detainees. The applicant was detained in a cell with 2 other detainees. The conditions of detention were appalling as shown is this picture taken in a cell with 4 detainees.
During his detention, the applicant suffered “brief psychotic disorder” for 3 months as a result of his detention. No medical treatment or therapy were provided to the applicant.
On March 25th 2008, the applicant filed a criminal complaint to an investigating judge for “torture” and “degrading treatment resulting from housing condition” (art. 225-14 of penal code). On January 20th 2009, the supreme court (Cour de cassation) ruled that article 225-14 of penal code didn’t apply to jails (case 08-82807). On September 18th 2008, the applicant filed a lawsuit at the administrative tribunal of Lyon for compensation for his condition of detention.
On February 17th 2010, Mr. Luc Lienhardt filed an application with the E.C.H.R arguing that his conditions of detention during more than 13 months were a violation of article 3 of the Convention, and that the lack of effective remedy was a violation of article 13 of the Convention. On June 2th 2010, the application was communicated to the agent of the French governement with questions to be answered before 16 weeks. The applicant is represented by Me Sylvain Cormier (Lyon) who didn’t answer our request for information.
The jail of Saint-Paul was definitely closed on May 3rd 2009. It was then revealed that more than 900 detainees were held in this jail in February 2008.
On December 6th 2010, it was announced that the administrative tribunal of Lyon awarded the applicant €2,000 for his 13 months detention in the horrendous jail Saint-Paul but declined to find a violation of article 3 of the Convention.
On September 13th 2011, the Court ruled the application inadmissible on the ground that the applicant didn’t appeal the judgment of the administrative tribunal of Lyon.
On August 31st 1984, Mr. Abdelhamid Hakkar was arrested in an investigation for the murder of a police officer in Auxerre. On December 8th 1989, the criminal court of Auxerre condemned him to a life sentence with a minimum sentence in jail of 18 years. On December 5th 1990, the supreme court (Court de cassation) failed his appeal (case 90-81761).
On June 27th 1995, the European Commission of Human Rights found in case Hakkar v. France (19033/91) a violation of article 6-1 for the length of the pre-trial investigation, and articles 6-1, 6-3-b), 6-3-c) for the absence of a defense lawyer during the trial at the criminal court of Auxerre.
On August 1st 1996, the applicant was transferred to solitary confinement at the jail of Villefranche-sur-Saône. He was refused his right to call his lawyer. On November 27th 1996, the European Commission of Human Rights ruled the application in case Hakkar v. France (30190/96) inadmissible due to the lack of exhaustion of domestic remedies for his allegation of violation of article 3 of the Convention due to solitary confinement.
On September 17th 1997, the ruling of the ECHR on June 27th 1995 was made public by the Committee of Ministers (DH (97)47) and on February 14th 2001 a final resolution ResDH(2001)4 was taken on the promise of the French Republic that a new trial will be organized in Spring 2001.
On November 30th 2000, the special commission of the supreme court (Cour de cassation) decided to open a new criminal trial in Nanterre following the ruling of the ECHR on June 27th 1995, “suspend” his sentence but didn’t order the cancellation of the ruling of December 8th 1989 and didn’t release the applicant. This was the first case to benefit from the article 89 of new law 2000-516.
On October 8th 2002, the E.C.H.R surprisingly ruled the application in case Hakkar v. France (16164/02) inadmissible because his allegations of violations are “manifestly ill-founded“. The applicant was arguing that his detention for 9 years in solitary confinement was a violation of article 3, his detention from the suspension of his sentence a violation of article 5-1-a) and the prosecution without having the previous ruling canceled a violation of article 4 P7.
On February 26th 2003, the criminal court of Nanterre condemned the applicant to the same sentence of the ruling of the criminal court of Auxerre on December 8th 1989. Following the appeal of the applicant, the criminal court of Versailles condemned the applicant on January 14th 2005 to a life sentence with a minimum sentence in jail of 16 years. On December 7th 2005, the supreme court (Court de cassation) rejected his appeal 05-80988.
On April 7th 2009, the E.C.H.R surprisingly ruled the application in case Hakkar v. France (43580/04) inadmissible. The applicant was arguing that his detention for 20 years was a violation of articles 3 but the Court didn’t respond to the allegation of article 3 without any explanation. He was also arguing that the lack of all the evidences exhibits at the criminal trial in Versailles was a violation of article 6-1 of the Convention but for the Court this was “manifestly ill-founded“.
On November 4th 2010, the appeal court of Toulouse mistakenly denied parole to the applicant a French citizen on the false claim by the prosecutor that the applicant need a work permit from the immigration office. This ruling is the 3rd appeal on the ruling of the tribunal of Tarbes on July 31th 2006 who denied him his right to apply for parole. The first two appeals rulings were quashed by the supreme court on January 16th 2008 (07-81289) and on March 18th 2009 (08-85870).
On November 5th 2010, the applicant began an hunger strike to protest the xenophobic ruling of November 4th 2010.
On November 25th 2010, the applicant filed an application with the E.C.H.R (below) requesting under article 39 the emergency review by the French Republic of the ruling of November 4th 2010 . The applicant is represented by Me Marie-Alix Canu Bernard. On November 26th 2010, he was transferred to an hospital after losing more than 10 kg in his ongoing 22 days hunger strike.
The applicant waited for 21 years for a fair trial on the criminal charges against him(1984-2005). He is now waiting more than 4 years for a fair trial on his parole application (2006-..).
At the hearing of November 4th 2010, the prosecutor advocated also the denial of the parole application because the applicant was still “passionate about his rights” in January 2010. The applicant and the ministry of Justice surely don’t share the same passion for the rule of law.
Update : On December 3rd 2010, the request for interim measure of the applicant under article 39 was denied.
On March 29th 2010, the Grand Chamber of the ECHR ruled [en] that the arrest and the detention of the sailors of the cargo ship “Winner” by the French Navy was in violation of article 5-1-c) of the Convention. It was found that their arrest and their detention on the high seas for 13 days was not lawful for lack of legal basis. Controversially, the Grand Chamber didn’t find a violation of article 5-3 of the Convention by 9 votes against 8 because it was alleged by the French Republic that the detainees “met” an investigating judge within 8 hours of their arrival on French soil.
On November 25th 2010, bill 563 was passed by the National Assembly to introduce provisions in the code of defense in derogation of the code of penal procedure, for the arrest and detention on the high seas, of sailors on board ships which are suspected of drug trafficking, attempt of illegal entry in France or piracy.
According to new article L-1521-12 of the code of defense, no cause is needed for the arrest and detention by the French Navy of sailors and no judge is notified of their arrest. Furthermore, according to new article L-1521-14, their detention is deemed indefinite until a transfer to an “authority“.
Bill 563 is therefore in violation of articles 5-1-c) of the Convention for a lack of legal basis. The French Republic still didn’t take appropriate general measure to prevent further violation of article 5-1-c) of the Convention, so there is violation of articles 1 and 46-1 of the Convention.
After 2 days of detention, the French Navy may request a judge to authorize further detention. The judge have no right to access the military files regarding the arrest and the detention of the sailors, and no power to order their immediate release to their own ship, the nearest ship or a port.
If the sailors are finally brought to the French Republic, the lawfulness of their arrest and detention on the high seas will be only reviewed by an investigation chamber if their defense lawyers submit a motion to dismiss, within 6 months of their indictment (art. 170, 173-1 of the code of penal procedure). In the case of the detainees of the “Winner“, the chamber ruled 3 months after the arrival in France. In other recent cases, the investigation chamber ruled 9 months (case “Junior” CC 09-80157), 11 months (case “Ponant” CC 09-8277) and 12 months in (case “Carré d’As” CC 09-87254) after the arrival.
Bill 563 is in violation of article 5-3 of the Convention which requires an automatic, prompt review of the lawfulness of the arrest and the detention (§124,125 Grand Chamber judgment Medvedyev v. France (3394/03)).
Moreover, bill 563 doesn’t create a “habeas corpus” remedy for the detainees on the high seas in violation of article 5-4 of the Convention or an enforceable right to compensation for the victim of unlawful detention in violation of article 5-5 of the Convention.
Finally, bill 563 brings serious concerns about the protection of the detainees on the high seas against violations of article 3 and 8 of the Convention. The high sea detainees are held incommunicado with no access to a lawyer, a doctor, family members, delegates of UNHCR, ICRC and NGOs, and consulate officers (art. 36 of the Convention of Vienna on consular relations). The new article L-1521-13 allows only one mandatory examination by a military doctor within 10 days of a health check by a military nurse, itself within 24 hours of the arrest.
Even worse, new article L-1521-14 allows extra-judicial rendition to any “authory” of any countries. The rendition to countries known to practice death penalty or torture (ex: Somalia) will results in violations of articles 2 and 3 of the Convention and article 3 of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The rendition of detainee claiming asylum will be in violation of article 33 of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.