ECtHR judgment in M.E. v. France (no. 50094/10) [Articles 3 and 13 ECHR]

Friday, October 4, 2013

The applicant is an Egyptian national and an active member of the Coptic Christian community in his country who currently lives in France. He alleged that he had been victim of harassment and violent attacks in Egypt. His complaints against such attacks had not been followed up by the Egyptian authorities. In addition, he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in absentia for proselytism. He fled Egypt in the course of the proceedings and went to France. In 2010 he was arrested in Germany and handed over to the French authorities. An administrative removal order was issued against him and he was placed in detention. He then applied for asylum for the first time. His application was processed under the fast-track procedure and rejected. His challenge to his administrative removal order was also rejected.

Before the ECtHR, he argued that he would be subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 if he was deported to Egypt. Relying on Article 13 in conjunction with Article 3, he also complained that he had not had an effective remedy because his application had been processed under the fast-track procedure.

The Court found that the situation of Coptic Christians in Egypt had been characterised by violence and persecution in the past years, and that there was no evidence of improvement. In contrast, there was strong evidence that the applicant would be a potential prime target for persecution and violence owing to his conviction, as showed by two summons that proved that he was still being actively looked for by the authorities today. The failure of the authorities to react to his complaints back in 2007 cast serious doubt on the applicant's ability to be protected by the Egyptian authorities. The Court concluded therefore that his deportation to Egypt would amount to a violation of Article 3. As regards the complaint on Article 13 in conjunction with Article 3, the Court noted that the applicant had had very tight deadlines to prepare a full application while he was in detention. However, the Court noted that this was justified by the fact that he had lodged the application three years after entering France, and was not satisfied that this was due to his unawareness of the asylum procedure. Moreover, he had been able to lodge an appeal with suspensive effect against the removal order, and an asylum application which had suspensive effect as well. Even though both were subject to very short time-limits, the applicant could not argue that this fact had made them unavailable to him, having regard to his substantial delay in lodging his asylum request. Therefore, the Court found no violation of Article 13.

Read the press release and the full text of the judgment (only in French) on the website of the European Court of Human Rights.

The Court's information factsheet on expulsions and extraditions has been updated following this judgment.

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Effective remedy (right to)
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Procedural guarantees