European Court of Human Rights condemns Greece for the degrading living conditions of a young single woman refugee in Samos

18.12.23

Case of D.S. v. Greece [Application no. 2080/2019]

On 30 November 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled against Greece for violation of Article 3 and violation of Articles 3 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) for the living conditions of a young single woman refugee in the old camp of Samos and her lack of access to an effective remedy. The case was represented before the ECtHR by the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR). In particular:

The applicant was a young refugee who arrived in Greece alone in search of international protection and resided in the former camp of Samos, at Vathy (closed in 2021), for specific periods of time in 2018 and 2019. In her application before the ECtHR, she denounced the inhuman and degrading living conditions she suffered as a young single woman in an overcrowded camp, deprived of security and privacy.

The Court noted that the Greek authorities placed the applicant twice, in 2018 and 2019, in an inappropriate and unsafe place for a young single woman. In addition, the Court took into account but rejected the Greek Government's arguments that the applicant had not been identified as a vulnerable person by the authorities and that the country had been facing an unprecedented migratory flow during the critical period which made the authorities' choices difficult. On the contrary, the Court noted that, in view of the migration flow, the authorities did not do everything that could reasonably be expected of them to ensure decent material conditions for the applicant.

On the basis of the above, the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 3 ECHR (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment). In addition, the Court found a violation of Articles 3 and 13 ECHR (right to an effective remedy) because the applicant did not have access to an effective remedy to complain about and potentially overturn her living conditions.

GCR expresses its deep concern about the consistently recurring violations of the fundamental rights of asylum seekers recorded also in the new - EU funded - structures (Closed Controlled Access Centers, CCACs) in Zervou area on Samos and on the other Eastern Aegean islands.

GCR calls on the Greek government and the European Commission to safeguard the fundamental rights of asylum seekers, to ensure transparency and accountability regarding the allocation and management of EU funds for their reception, to abandon the policy of remote, prison-like centers and detention camps, and to promote social inclusion policies for newly arrived asylum seekers and recognized refugees.

See the full judgment (in French) here.

 

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