ECtHR decision in Housein v. Greece, Application No. 71825/11 [Articles 3, 5 and 9]

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The applicant, born in 1994, is an Afghan national. He was arrested while still a child for entering Greece illegally, and detained on 2 June 2011 in an adult detention facility pending removal. He challenged his detention as well as the detention conditions. On 12 July 2011 he was transferred to a youth hostel, at which he remained until the decision ordering his detention and deportation was set aside on 28 July. Before the ECtHR, the applicant claimed a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of degrading treatment), regarding the detention conditions, Article 5(1) and (4) (right to liberty and right to have the lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court), regarding his detention as an unaccompanied child, and, as a Muslim, Article 9 (freedom of religion) for being allegedly forced to choose between eating pork and going hungry.

On Article 3, the Court decided that the applicant, by failing to lodge an action under Article 105 of the Law of the Civil Code for damages caused by an illegal state act (such as detention of a child with adults), had not exhausted domestic remedies. As to Article 5(1), the Court found a violation in that, despite numerous provisions of Greek law to the contrary, the applicant had been detained as an unaccompanied child for nearly two months, spending most of that time in an adult detention centre. The Court also found a violation of Article 5(4) because the Administrative Court to which the applicant complained of detention refused to consider the legality of the decision to detain and declared the action inadmissible. Finally, the applicant's Article 9 complaint was rejected as unfounded because, even if all domestic remedies were exhausted (which was doubted), the Court found no reason to question the documentary evidence of the meal program provided by the Government. The Court granted 12,000 Euros in damages for the Article 5 violations.

Based on an unofficial ECRE translation.

Read the judgment (French only) of the European Court of Human Rights.

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Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Reception conditions
Unaccompanied minor