Episode 22: Why MSS is so important

Episode 21 explained what happened in the case of MSS, but we still need to discuss why the case is so important.

 

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One point is that it triggered a revision of the so-called ‘Dublin regulation’.

Another is that migrants often lose at Strasbourg because they cannot prove their allegations. MSS could not prove that he had personally suffered from the situation in Greece generally denounced by NGOs either. Still, the Court accepted his allegations.

Also, the Court was persuaded to overturn its own case law. Until then, the lead case of KRS v. the United Kingdom had meant that a transfer to Greece was never considered to entail a violation of the Convention. In a sense, MSS should have been declared inadmissible. However, the Court sided not with the states but with the applicant and civil society.

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Episode 21: MSS sees Belgium and Greece condemned

In the sea of Strasbourg losses for migrants, MSS stands out as a resounding victory, which we start exploring in this episode.

 

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The applicant was an Afghani national who had worked for the Allied forces. Fearing for his life, he left his country. He arrived in Europe through Greece. He then moved to Belgium where he claimed asylum. Belgium transferred him back to Greece. There he was subject to appalling conditions.

He kept in contact with his Belgian legal representative so that his transfer did not put an end to his Strasbourg application.

The Strasbourg Court found that Belgium and Greece had each violated the European Convention on Human Rights. This was on several counts, well worth detailing.

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Episode 20: Tabitha’s story

It would be wrong to think that the European Court of Human Rights is incapable of finding immigration detention in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

For example, when a lone five year old was kept in a detention centre in Belgium for two months, the Court found violation after violation of the Convention.

However, this raises the question: how bad must the treatment of a migrant be before the Strasbourg Court reacts?

 

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Episode nineteen: Immigration detention not to be resorted to lightly

In this episode, I discuss the judgment of the Inter-American Court in the case of Vélez Loor v. Panama.

 

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The victim was a migrant who had been caught inexplicably wandering in the jungle by the Panamanian police. He was detained. At some stage, he thought he would die without his family ever knowing what had happened to him.

The government of Panama accepted responsibility regarding the material conditions of his ten-month detention but disputed other claims.

Amongst other things, the Inter-American Court ruled that immigration detention should only ever be used as a last resort.

As migrants are detained in their thousands in Europe, the judgment reminds us that immigration detention is not a phenomenon that goes without saying.

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