The European Court of Human Rights Communicates Four Cases for Multiple Violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, Including the Suspension of Access to Asylum in March 2020

ATHENS On 27 November and on 18 December 2023 respectively, the European Court of Human Rights published its communication of HIAS Greece’s cases N.Y. v. Greece, B.G.Y. v. Greece and H.K. v. Greece, and K.A. and others v. Greece to the Greek Government.

In the first group of cases, the applicants are N.Y., a Palestinian woman whose husband was a beneficiary of international protection in Austria. B.G.Y., a then 80-year-old woman from Kunduz, Afghanistan, and H.K., a Syrian Kurdish widow from Afrin. H.K. was travelling together with her 5-year-old son, who drowned when their boat capsized off the island of Lesvos.

K.A. and others v. Greece concerns a Syrian family of Kurdish ethnicity from northern Syria: the parents, K.A. and A.A., and their children, 5 years old and 1 year old respectively. The mother, A.A., had been suffering from a major depressive disorder with psychotic features.

All applicants arrived at Lesvos, Greece, in the beginning of March 2020. The applicants were not allowed to apply for asylum, due to Greece’s decision to suspend access to asylum and were issued removal decisions. All of them were also detained in a military vessel together with approximately 500 other asylum-seekers, in disregard for their vulnerabilities and physical and mental health conditions, in extremely filthy and overcrowded conditions, and without access to sanitation facilities and hygiene products, adequate food, clothing and healthcare. Additionally, no COVID-19 measures had been put in place, exposing them to a heightened risk for COVID-19.

Their inhuman and degrading conditions continued in the camps in Klidi (Serres) for B.G.Y. and Malakasa II for the rest of the applicants. In K.A. and others, by the time the applicants received a release order, the camp was locked-up for quarantine purposes after a COVID-19 case in the adjacent but separate Malakasa I center. However, this measure was not adopted pursuant to the applicable legal framework and no detention decision was ever served on them.

In the first group of cases, the applicants are complaining that, although in case of expulsion they had an arguable claim that there existed substantial grounds for fearing a real risk of treatment contrary to Art. 3 ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights), they had no access to an effective remedy (Art. 13 ECHR) and they were detained in inhuman and degrading conditions (Art. 3 ECHR) with no information about the grounds for their detention (Art. 5 § 2 ECHR).

In K.A. and others v. Greece case, the applicants are additionally complaining that their detention was arbitrary, the extension of the detention for quarantine purposes did not take place “in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law,” that their vulnerabilities and best interests of the children had not been taken into consideration (Art. 5 § 1 ECHR), and that they did not have access to a judicial review of their detention (Art. 5 § 4 ECHR). Finally, the applicants hold that their detention also amounted to an interference with their right to family life (Art. 8 ECHR).

Search HIAS