From Ido­me­ni to Stras­bourg: Refu­gees demand their right to have rights at the ECtHR

Strasbourg/Berlin/Frankfurt, 14 Sep­tem­ber 2016 – Eight indi­vi­du­als from Syria, Iraq and Afgha­ni­stan are resis­ting the vio­la­ti­on of their human rights on the rou­te across the bor­ders of Euro­pe. They sub­mit­ted a com­plaint to the Euro­pean Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against their unlawful push-back from the For­mer Yugo­slav Repu­blic of Mace­do­nia (FYROM) to the bor­der camp Ido­me­ni in Greece in March 2016. The clai­mants assert that FYROM’s prac­ti­ce of coll­ec­ti­ve and often vio­lent expul­si­ons brea­ches the Euro­pean Con­ven­ti­on on Human Rights.

The Euro­pean Cen­ter for Con­sti­tu­tio­nal and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Pro Asyl pro­vi­de sup­port for the com­plaints. They see the­se legal pro­cee­dings as an important step in the strugg­le against push-backs at Euro­pean bor­ders and for refu­gees’ fun­da­men­tal “right to have rights.” The appli­cants are repre­sen­ted by ECCHR’s coope­ra­ting att­or­ney Cars­ten Geri­cke from Hamburg.

“The clo­sure of the Greek-Mace­do­ni­an bor­der made legal ent­ry into Euro­pe via the Bal­kan rou­te de fac­to impos­si­ble,” said ECCHR Gene­ral Secre­ta­ry Wolf­gang Kaleck. “FYROM’s use of push-backs against refu­gees in tran­sit vio­la­tes human rights, as do the unlawful bor­der ope­ra­ti­ons con­duc­ted by Spain at the exter­nal bor­ders of Euro­pe.” Karl Kopp, Pro Asyl’s Spo­kesper­son for Euro­pe adds: “In a Euro­pe cha­rac­te­ri­zed by walls and fen­ces, the ECtHR in Stras­burg offers hope that vic­tims of sys­te­ma­tic unlawful coll­ec­ti­ve expul­si­on from FYROM to Greece may find a mea­su­re of justice.”

The two women and six men (names with­held for pro­tec­tion) crossed the Greek–Macedonian bor­der along­side appro­xi­m­ate­ly 1,500 other refu­gees on 14 March 2016. The Mace­do­ni­an mili­ta­ry appre­hen­ded them and forced them back to Greece through impro­vi­sed holes in the new­ly con­s­truc­ted bor­der fence. The clai­mants had no pos­si­bi­li­ty to ask for asyl­um or to take legal action against their sum­ma­ry depor­ta­ti­on from FYROM. The­se push-backs car­ri­ed out wit­hout any con­side­ra­ti­on of indi­vi­du­al cir­cum­s­tances vio­la­te Artic­le 4 Pro­to­col 4 (pro­hi­bi­ti­on of coll­ec­ti­ve expul­si­on) and Artic­le 13 (right to an effec­ti­ve reme­dy) of the Euro­pean Con­ven­ti­on on Human Rights.

Sin­ce 2014 ECCHR has used stra­te­gic liti­ga­ti­on to con­test the push-back prac­ti­ces in Euro­pe. It also pro­vi­ded sup­port for the ECtHR com­plaints of two indi­vi­du­als against Spain’s push-back prac­ti­ce at the bor­der in Mel­il­la. Begin­ning in 2012 Pro Asyl has docu­men­ted the num­e­rous push-back ope­ra­ti­ons in the Aege­an and sup­port­ed the sur­vi­vors of the Farm­a­ko­ni­si bor­der sur­veil­lan­ce ope­ra­ti­on befo­re the ECtHR.


ECCHR, Ana­bel Ber­me­jo – Tel.: + 49 (0) 172 – 587 00 87, E‑Mail: bermejo@ecchr.eu

PRO ASYL, Karl Kopp – Tel.: +49 (0)174 3384762, E‑Mail: presse@proasyl.de

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