Success at the European Court of Human Rights
The UK government conceded a claim brought by an Iranian woman diagnosed with a depressive disorder and severe post traumatic stress, against third country removal to Greece. The UK Government has agreed , to give full consideration to her Asylum and Human Rights claim, despite her having claimed asylum in Greece.
The Applicant had made a claim for Asylum in Greece. She had been abused by the agent who had been prosecuted in Greece. She came to the United Kingdom with her son to claim asylum. Once the UK authorities established that the Applicant had claimed asylum in Greece, they issued removal directions to remove her and her son. The Applicant applied for an injunction against removal. The ECtHR issued an order against the UK authorities from removing the Applicant to Greece.
A claim was then filed on that grounds it was a breach of Article 3 and Article 8 for her to be removed to Greece, on that grounds that removal to Greece would result intense mental anguish and a real risk of suicide. In a lengthy written response to the UK government, it was submitted that where an Article 3 claim arises the Court was required to engage anxious scrutiny. Diplomatic assurances or findings of the European Court of Justice in KRS –v- United Kingdom no. 327 33/0 could not limit that obligation to conduct such rigorous scrutiny.
Further it was submitted the Applicant’s case was not that the minimum standards for reception of asylum seekers did not exist or because of the conditions in Greece for Asylum seekers in respect of housing and subsistence but that the minimum standards for reception of asylum seekers and conditions were not such as to address the risk of severe mental suffering. The Applicant relied on Ranien v Finland (1997 VIII).
On the issue of Article 8, the court was invited to consider a number of factors and to draw its own conclusion on the medical evidence. A report from a psychotherapist was relied upon, which stated inter alia:
”As is her psychological need, MsXXX has been offered trauma focused psychological therapy from an experienced therapist with Cardiff traumatic stress service. There is a waiting list however and she would not be able to take treatment while she still may be sent back to Greece. We can not effectively treat her post traumatic stress disorder when there is a likelihood that the person will be sent back to that dangerous situation and be out at risk of further abuse.”
The Court was directed to the availability of an extensive support network and that the Applicant could now speak English (which meant she could more effectively access medical assistance in the UK). The court was asked to consider the Applicant’s child best interests and in particular that UK authorities had not given any consideration to his interests in seeking removal. The Applicant relied on Mehemi v France, Judgement 26th September 1997, Reports 1197-VI.
The Court was referred Article 36 United Nations convention on the Rights of the Child- ”children should be protected from any activities that could harm their development”. The Applicant relied on report from a NHS children’s centre;
”I would be terribly concerned for this boy’s safety and wellbeing should he have to leave the stability that he has now found.”
The Applicant and her son asked for damages in just satisfaction for stress and anxiety caused by the UK authorities delay in processing the asylum claim. After written representations were submitted and prior to a decision from the European Court of Human Rights, the Government agreed not to remove the Applicant and her son to Greece and to process the Applicant’s Asylum and Human Rights claim in the UK. The Applicant accepted.
Counsel was Miss N Mallick
Instructing Solicitors were Duncan Moghal Solicitors