July 11, 2006
Press Release from Iranian Refugees’ Alliance, Inc.
Iranian refugees win their case against Turkey in international court, UN Refugee Agency’s perverse decision condemned.
On June 22, 2006 the European Court of Human
Rights in Strasburg announced its judgment
on the case of D. and Others v.
"We are pleased with the Court’s ruling for validating the applicants’ fear of persecution in Iran and permanently preventing their deportation,” said Iranian Refugees’ Alliance’s director, Deljou Abadi, who has represented the applicants before the Court. "The Court obviously has limited itself to a small part of the applicants’ complaints, but at a time when there is no tribunal to provide any measure of justice whatsoever to refugee applicants whose cases are unjustly rejected by UNHCR and who are as a result deported to their country of persecution, even a minimal remedy can save lives.”
Mr. D. and Mrs. S. are from Sunni Kurdish
and Shi’ite Azeri families, respectively. Having been
arrested, detained and tortured previously by Iranian authorities for political
reasons, D. fled to
their application to the Court, Mr. D. & Mrs. S. alleged that by expelling
In its ruling on the applicants’ Article 3
complaints, the Court, limiting its examination to Mrs. S.’s
impending sentence of 100 lash strokes, held that her expulsion to
The Court particularly criticized UNHCR’s unsubstantiated assertion that “in view of her state of health” Mrs. S.’s sentence had been “reduced” to a “symbolic” punishment of a single stroke administered with a bundle of 100 lashes. The Court found it not only factually incorrect, but also a misqualification of such punishment’s inherent “inhuman” character. “Even if UNHCR’s allegation were true”, the Court added, “although the applicant would be spared more grievous injury, her punishment - whereby she would be treated as an object in the power of the authorities – still constitutes an assault on precisely that which is one of the main purposes of Article 3 to protect, namely her personal dignity and her mental and physical integrity.” [unofficial translation from French]
With respect to the applicants’ other complaints, the Court rejected the government’s preliminary objection that applicants could have contested their deportation order in the administrative court and agreed with the applicants that such a remedy would not be effective. However, it held without any reasoning that its finding under Article 3 made it unnecessary to examine the case under Article 13 and Article 14. Applicants complaints under Articles 13 and 14 included the authorities’: 1) failure to inform them of their rejection reasons, 2) failure to conduct even an appearance of an examination of their application throughout the asylum procedures and even before the Court, 3) failure to provide legal assistance, proper information and adequate translation, 4) failure to set up an effective appeal system, and 5) no-questions-asked reliance on UNHCR’s decision without any scrutiny of its substance or its fairness.
In regard to the applicants’ request for “just satisfaction” under Article 41 of the Convention, the Court considered that the finding of a potential breach of the Convention constituted in itself sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage suffered by the applicants and awarded the applicants 5,000 euros (EUR) for costs and expenses.
“Considering the gravity and clarity of this case, it is a pity that the Court opted for the minimum possible examination” said Abadi. “After experiencing six years of total rightlessness, ineptitude and secrecy, öD. and S. and their daughter certainly deserved a stronger and broader condemnation of the authorities’ actions and inactions. Had the Court proceeded with even one of the applicants’ other complaints, particularly those which deal with procedural issues, it would have inevitably found violations of basic fairness standards required by any refugee status determination worth its name. Such finding perhaps would have made it possible for other refugee applicants going through similar experiences to benefit more significantly from the Court’s ruling.”
The judgment is available in French at the Court’s website www.echr.coe.int.
For further information regarding this case please contact the Iranian Refugees’ Alliance, Inc. at the address below.
Iranian Refugees' Alliance, Inc., is a non-profit NGO in the
Iranian Refugees' Alliance, Inc.