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ECtHR ruled on deportation to Sudan taking place despite a court decision cancelling the deportation measure

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Relevant Legislative Provisions
European Convention on Human Rights
Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR], M.A. (Sudan) v Belgium, 19656/18, CE:ECHR:2020:1027JUD001965618, 27 October 2020. Link redirects to the English summary in the EUAA Case Law Database.
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The case concerns the removal of the applicant, M.A., a Sudanese national, despite a judicial decision ordering the suspension of the removal measure. The applicant travelled through Italy and entered Belgium unlawfully with the intention to reach the UK. In Belgium he was stopped by police and detained pending removal at a migrant detention centre. He submitted an asylum application on 6 September 2017 but withdrew it soon after, following reports that Belgium was working with Sudan to identify and repatriate Sudanese nationals who had unlawfully entered Belgium. On 27 September 2017, while still in detention, M.A. attended a meeting with members of the Sudanese embassy and soon after he was issued with a travel permit to return to Sudan. M.A. requested his release before the Louvain Court of First Instance. At the same time, the Court of First Instance of Brussels held that Belgium could not deport the applicant before a ruling regarding his detention. The deportation was cancelled, but the applicant was taken to the airport and allegedly threatened with sedatives to board the place, so that he signed a statement authorising his departure and he boarded the flight.

The applicant complained under Article 3 ECHR about the fact that he was removed from Belgium without an assessment of the risk of ill-treatment he faced in Sudan, without adequate procedural safeguards and that at the time it was known that areas in Sudan were unsafe. 

The ECtHR found a violation of Article 3 ECHR holding that the fact that the applicant withdrew his application for asylum did not exonerate the authorities from their obligations. In addition, the court found that the Belgian authorities did not adequately assess the risk of ill-treatment prior to the removal of the applicant and they did not provide adequate safeguards during the identification meeting between the applicant and the Sudanese embassy.

The ECtHR also found a violation of Article 13 ECHR, as the authorities removed the applicant despite the deportation order being cancelled, thus depriving him of any effective remedy.

Country of Decision
Council of Europe
Court Name
CoE: European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR]
Case Number
Date of Decision
Country of Origin
Effective remedy