ECHR holds France in violation of asylum-seekers rights in unanimous judgement

Felicity Salina, International Law Officer

Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights delivered a unanimous judgement against France in N.H. and ors v. France on Thursday morning. The case concerns an application lodged by a group of asylum-seekers who claimed to have been forced into living in inhuman and degrading conditions for months, as they struggle to obtain financial and material support to which they are entitled under French law.

The ECHR ruled that France “had failed in [its] duties under domestic law” with respect to three of the applicants – an Afghan, Russian, and Iranian – who had been unable to access sanitary facilities and other means of subsistence. It specifically noted that all three applicants had to live on the streets for a period of time following the denial of their asylum applications and requests for a provisional residence permit on multiple occasions.

France’s actions, it was held, constituted a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR ordered that non-pecuniary damages ranging between EUR 10,000 and 12,000 be paid to each of the three applicants. Applicant N.H. received an additional EUR 2,396.80 in pecuniary damages. The judgement is part of a series of cases instituted against a number of European countries in recent years, as the continent continues to experience massive influxes of refugees and asylum-seekers.

See similar cases:
A.A. v. France, App No. 18039/11, Judgment (French), 15 January 2015 < http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-150710>
NA v. The United Kingdom, App No. 25904/07, Judgment, 17 July 2008 < http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-87458>
Saadi v. Italy, App No. 32701/06, Judgment, 28 February 2008 < http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-85276>