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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.

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).

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.

The execution of judgment Gebremedhin v. Frances is still under review by the Committee of Ministers under standard supervision.

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 2nd 2011 at 06:00 am, riot police officers entered the occupied building, detained asylum seekers in their rooms and checked their identity, before forcing them out of the building.

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 December 15th 2002, Ms. Yekaterina Popov arrived in France from Kazakhstan, to seek asylum. On  June 10th 2003, her husband Mr. Vladimir Popov joined her. On January 20th 2004, they were denied refugee status by OFPRA. On May 31st 2005, their appeal to the CRR was rejected. On n/a another application for refugee status was made by the family.

On August 27th 2007, the applicants and their two children (five months and 3 years old) were arrested and detained in police custody on an investigation for “illegal stay“. Then they were detained in an hotel in Angers before being transferred to the immigration detention center of Rouen-Oissel.

On September 10th 2007, the applicants filed their application with the ECHR arguing a violation of articles 3, 5-1-f) and 8 of the Convention due to their detention with their children in police custody and in the immigration detention center. In addition they complained of the violation of articles 3 and 8 if they were to be deported to Kazakhstan. On September 12th 2007, the applicants and their children were released. On July 16th 2009, the CRR granted them refugee status.

On October 19th 2009, the case was communicated to the French Republic with questions to be answered within 16 weeks. On January 19th 2012, the Court ruled that the detention of the 2 children was in violation of article 3 on the ground that the immigration detention center of Rouen-Oissel was not adapted to detain children. It found a violation of articles 5-1-f) and 5-4 of the Convention because the detention of minor is not allowed by the French code of migration and asylum. The Court added that the detention of the family was a violation of article 8 of the Convention.

It awarded the family €10,000 for moral damages and €3,000 for legal fees. The applicants were represented by Me Denis Seguin.

Surprisingly, the Court found no violation of article 5-4 for the parents on the ground that a judge ruled on the legality of their detention at the request of the immigration office. Under French code of migration and asylum, the parents were not entitled to take any proceeding by which the lawfulness of their detention shall be decided (habeas corpus). The Court also didn’t rule on the allegations of violations of the Convention during the detention of the family in police custody.


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RSS Cases communicated