According to the ECHR Press Release
The applicants are five Afghan nationals who entered Greece as unaccompanied migrant minors in 2016, when they were between 14 and 17 years of age. They alleged that they had fled Afghanistan because they feared for their lives as members of the Ismaili religious minority. In February 2016 they were apprehended by the police. Orders were made for their deportation and they were given one month to leave Greek territory. Some of them attempted to cross the border between Greece and North Macedonia but were stopped by the border guards. Sh.D. was arrested by the Greek police and placed in “protective custody” at Polykastro police station for 24 days. A.A., S.M., M.M. and A.B.M. were arrested on the island of Chios and their deportation was ordered; they subsequently crossed to the Greek mainland and made their way to Idomeni, a settlement on the border between Greece and North Macedonia.
For approximately one month they were accommodated at the makeshift camp in Idomeni. In March 2016, accompanied by their lawyer, they were escorted to the Central Asylum Service in Athens to apply for asylum. In May 2016 they moved into a squatted hotel in the centre of Athens. In July 2016 S.M., M.M. and A.B.M. were taken into the Faros shelter for unaccompanied minors, a facility operating under the supervision of the Norwegian Embassy and the International Organization for Migration. In August 2016 S.M. and M.M. were transferred to the Mellon special facility for unaccompanied minors, run by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In December 2016 M.M. was arrested by the police on account of his status as a minor and was placed in “protective custody” for eight days. A.A. hid under a lorry in an attempt to reach Italy but was arrested and likewise placed in “protective custody” in July 2016 at Igoumenitsa Port police station, and later, after a suicide attempt, at Filiata police station. S.M. and A.A. were granted refugee status in October 2016 and January 2017 respectively.
The European Court of Human Rights, unanimously:
-A violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention. Firstly, the Court held that the conditions of detention of three of the applicants in various police stations amounted to degrading treatment, observing that being detained in these places was liable to arouse in the persons concerned feelings of isolation from the outside world, with potentially negative repercussions on their physical and mental well-being. Secondly, the Court held that the authorities had not done all that could reasonably be expected of them to fulfil the obligation to provide for and protect four of the applicants, who had lived for a month in the Idomeni camp in an environment unsuitable for adolescents. That obligation was incumbent on the Greek State with regard to persons who were particularly vulnerable because of their age.
-A violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) with regard to three applicants. The Court held that the placement of these three applicants in the police stations amounted to a deprivation of liberty as the Greek Government had not explained why the authorities had first placed the applicants in police stations – and in degrading conditions of detention – rather than in alternative temporary accommodation. The detention of those applicants had therefore not been lawful.
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