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On August 25th 2000, Ms. Horvath, an Hungarian citizen was interrogated in Dutch and English by Dutch speaking police officers of the Ghent police without the assistance of a sworn interpreter (art.47 bis of the code of criminal instruction). On March 27th 2001, she received a summon in Dutch from the prosecutor of the king of the Belgians.
On February 14th 2002, she was condemned in absentia by the tribunal of Ghent. On November 9th 2004, the court of appeal of Ghent condemned her in absentia.
On March 7th 2005, she was assisted by a Hungarian/Dutch interpreter to give her statement to the court during an appeal hearing (art.31 law June 15th 1935). It is unknown if the she was assisted by the interpreter during her meetings with her lawyer and if the key prosecution files and judgments were translated in Hungarian. On January 17th 2006, the court of appeal of Ghent found her guilty and sentenced her to the same penalty as the judgment of the tribunal of Gent. On September 18th 2006, her appeal to the supreme court (Cour de cassation) was rejected (case no P060298N).
On January 26th 2007, Ms. Horvath filed an application with the ECHR on the ground that she was not “informed promptly, in a language which she understood and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against her” in violation of article 6-1-a) of the Convention. She added that she was interrogated by police officers without an interpreter in violation of article 6-1-e) of the Convention.
On January 24th 2012, Judges Berro-Lefèvre (Monaco), Jočienė (Lithuania), Karakaş (Turkey), Popović (Serbia), Raimondi (Italy), Sajó (Hungary), and Tulkens (Belgium) ruled unanimously her application inadmissible. They found that Ms. Horvath was informed “of the nature and cause of the accusation against her” because she submitted a brief in Dutch to the appeal court of Ghent and didn’t request during the appeal hearing for a translation in Hungarian of the summon.
The 7 Judges of the 2nd section also concluded that the allegation of violation of article 6-1-e) was inadmissible (art.35-1 of the Convention) on the ground that the applicant didn’t complain to the Belgium supreme court about the lack of interpreter during police interrogation. But according to the judgment of the supreme court (case no P060298N 7.8.9), the applicant explicitly raised this issue. Interestingly, the same section of the Court found an allegation of violation of article 6-1-e) admissible even though the applicant didn’t complain to the Turkish supreme court about the lack of interpreter during police interrogation (Judgment Şaman v. Turkey (35292/05) .25).
On October 26th 2010, the directive 2010/64/EU on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings was published. It establishes for suspect or accused persons, the right to free interpretation during police interrogation (art. 2.1), meetings with lawyer (art. 2.2) and hearings (art.2.1). It also confers them the right to free translation of any detention decision, any charge or indictment, any judgment (art.3.2) and other “essentials documents” (art.3.1) as well as the right to an effective remedy to challenge refusal to provide free translation (art.2.5) or free interpretation (art.3.5).
The Kingdom of Belgium have to bring into force the law necessary to comply with this directive by 27 October 2013 (art.9).
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.
In February 1998, Mr. Abdalwahab Guerni was contacted by an undercover police officer R. He was introduced to him through a police informant D. The undercover police officer R. asked to purchase drugs. On March 5th 1998, the applicant was arrested when delivering the drugs.
On November 18th 2003, the tribunal of Brugges convicted the applicant to 4 years in prison and to a fine. The applicant had argued that the covert operation was not authorized by law. On May 31th 2006, the appeal court of Gent rejected his appeal and his request to examine the prosecution witnesses R, D and the investigation judge. On 31th October 2006, the supreme court rejected his appeal.
On May 2nd 2007, the applicant submitted his case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that his conviction was based on an entrapment and an illegal covert operation in violation of articles 8 and 6-1 of the Convention. He added that the investigation files were secret for the court in violation of article 6-1 and that he couldn’t examine the prosecution witnesses in violation of article 6-3-d).
On May 5th 2011, the application was communicated to the agent of the Belgium government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks. The applicant is represented by Mr. Hans Rieder (Gent) who didn’t reply our request for comments.
On January 12th 2003 at 01:15am, Mr. Yves Trévalec unarmed was shot 7 times at close range by 2 police officers of a patrol unit and a dog unit in Liege . The applicant is a journalist and was embedded with a special anti-gang police unit at the time of the shooting. An investigation was opened by an investigation judge for “assault” and carried out by the local police unit.
On March 15th 2005, the prosecutor of the king asked the investigation judge not to charge the 2 shooters on the ground that they acted in self-defense. On May 16th 2006, the tribunal of Liege refused to charge the 2 shooters. The ruling was confirmed by the appeal court of Liege. On April 18th 2007, the supreme court rejected the appeal of the applicant.
On July 16th 2007, the applicant submitted his case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the close range shooting was a violation of article 2 of the Convention. He added that the 3 years investigation was not effective in violation of article 2 and that the court didn’t answer his observations in violation of article 6-1. The applicant was represented by Me Jean Gonthier (Bordeaux). On April 28th 2008, the application was communicated to the agent of the Belgium government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks.
On June 14th 2011, the Court found a violation of article 2 of the Convention on the ground that the police of Liege was careless in setting up the embedment of the journalist. The Court found no violation of article 2 in regards with the investigation. It awarded the applicant €0 for his legal fees. The amount of damages will be evaluated at a later date.
On July 1st 1992, a Belgium bank received from Nigeria a “contract” to transfer $45 millions to the bank account of Mr. Dimitrios Coussios. It seems to have been an attempt for an advanced fee fraud (also called 419 fraud). Nevertheless, the bank informed the employer of Mr. Dimitri Coussios (the European Commission) of the contract. The district attorney of Brussels didn’t open any investigation.
On December 1st 1993, the European Commission fired the applicant for having formed a contract as a member of the European Commission. On June 17th 1994, the applicant sued the Belgium bank for damages, for disclosing the “contract” to his employer. On November 2nd 2007, the supreme court rejected the appeal of the applicant, putting an end to a civil litigation of 13 years.
On April 22nd 2008, the applicant submitted his case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that a civil litigation lasting 13 years was a violation of article 6-1 of the Convention. He added that the civil appeal court of Mons considered him guilty of “fraud” was a violation of article 6-2, his dismissal was a violation of articles 6-3 and 8 and the lack of remedies a violation of article 13. The applicant is represented by Me Xavier Magnee (Brussels).
On March 13th 2010, S.C is placed in police custody in Liege and interrogated by police officers on a murder charge. She is not allowed to receive any legal assistance from a lawyer. On March 14th 2010, the applicant is interrogated by an investigating judge of the tribunal without any legal assistance. Belgium law didn’t authorize suspect in custody to receive any legal assistance at this stage of the investigation.
On June 3rd 2010, the investigation chamber of the appeal court of Liege refused to suppress transcripts of these interrogations.
On December 3rd 2010, the applicant submitted his case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that lack of legal assistance in custody was a violation of articles 5-1, 6-1 and 6-3 of the Convention. The applicant is represented by 3 lawyers of Defenso, Mr. Marc Neve, Ms. Sandra Berbuto and Ms. Estelle Berthe. On May 4th 2011, the application was communicated to the agent of the Belgium government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks.
On January 13th 2009, the E.C.H.R found in case Taxquet v. Belgium (926/05) [en] a violation of article 6-1 of the Convention on the ground that the ruling of the criminal court (“cour d’assises“) was not motivated. On June 5th 2009, 5 judges of the grand chamber accepted to hear the appeal of Belgium. On September 15th 2009, France submitted a brief (see below). On October 21th 2009, a public hearing was held by the Court [en].
On November 16th 2010 the grand chamber confirmed [en] the finding of the violation of article 6-1 of the Convention.
On September 25th 2008, the bill 4-924 introducing the motivation of ruling of criminal court was submitted to the Senate. On December 10th 2009, the senate voted the law which took effect on January 21th 2010. Under the new law, the defendant can only be condemned if the admissible evidences shows there is no reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. The grounds for the guilty ruling and for the sentencing, have also to be stated and an appeal to the supreme court is created.
In France, the rulings of the criminal court are still not motivated. In 2009, there was 3,345 rulings by criminal courts in France. The supreme court (Cour de cassation) ruled that the lack of ground was not a violation of article 6-1 of the Convention (cases 08-86480, 08-88112, 09-82459, 09-81.018, 09-82665, 09-85146, 09-86090, 09-84166, 09-87307, 09-88414).
The French government didn’t introduce any reform of the criminal court. In its threatening observations to the E.C.H.R, the French government argued that the grand chamber couldn’t find a violation of article 6-1, otherwise thousands of criminal court rulings will have to be quashed (34) and that the E.C.H.R didn’t have the capacity to make such decision (33).
On October 26th 2010, the press office of the European Court of Human Rights has confirmed that all interim measures applications (art. 39 of the rules of the court) requesting a suspension of a deportation order (under Dublin regulation) of an asylum seeker to Greece are currently granted.
This policy will be in effect until a ruling of the Court in the case M.S.S v. Belgium and Greece (30696/09). A public hearing on the case took place on September 1st 2010.
None of the French N.G.O (ASSFAM, La Cimade , Forum Réfugiés, France Terre d’Asile, Ordre de Malte France and Anafe) mandated by the French government to provide legal assistance to asylum seekers in immigration detention centers answered our e-mail for comments.
On February 3rd 2003, an investigation was opened on an armed robbery committed in a jewelry store in Courchevel (France). On January 12th 2004, the French investigating judge requested by letters rogatory that Mr. Boban Stojkovic detained in Bruges (Belgium), be interrogated in presence of his lawyer (art. 113-3 of the code of penal instruction) on his alleged involvement in the armed robbery.
On March 11th and 12th 2004, the applicant was interrogated by Belgium police officers in the presence of the French investigating judge and a French district attorney. The applicant immediately requested the assistance of a lawyer but no lawyer was appointed to him until.. November 2th 2004.
On February 1st 2007, the applicant was formally charged for the armed robbery. On May 9th 2007, the appeal court of Chambery rejected his motion to suppress the transcript of his interrogation of 2004. On November 20th 2007, the supreme court , dismissed his appeal no 07-86503. On December 3rd 2008, the applicant was sentenced to 6 years in jail.
On May 16th 2008, the applicant filed his case with the E.C.H.R arguing a violation of article 6-3-c of the Convention., due to the lack of assistance of a lawyer during his interrogation in 2004. The applicant is represented by Me Michel Jugnet.
On December 2th 2009, the case was communicated to the French Republic with questions in reference to the judgment Salduz v. Turkey (no 36391/02). The agents for the French, Belgium and Serbian States were given the deadline of April 2th 2010 to submit their answers.
On October 27th 2011, the Court found a violation of articles 6-1 and 6-3-c) of the Convention and condemned the French Republic to pay €5,000 of damages to the applicant.