Today, in a notable decision, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) granted an interim measure against Iceland, effectively temporarily halting the deportation of an Iraqi family, represented by Claudia and Partners, to Greece until 21 November 2023.
The Court has posed five significant questions to the Icelandic government which has been given a deadline of 8 November 2023 to respond. In particular:
1. What practical steps, if any, have been taken for the applicant Hussein HUSSEIN’s effective transfer to Greece?
2. If steps have been taken, when and how will the applicant be transferred?
3. Will the applicant be provided with medical assistance during the journey? If so, please provide details.
4. Is there a medical protocol for handing over the applicant to the Greek authorities upon arrival?
5. What practical steps, if any, have been taken, to ensure that the applicants will have adequate living conditions and access to necessary medical care (in view of their specific needs) once in Greece?
This significant ruling comes at a critical juncture for the family, which includes a disabled man, emphasizing the court’s role in safeguarding the rights of those facing precarious humanitarian situations.
The family, whose legal battle has been spearheaded by the law firm Claudia and Partners, sought refuge in Iceland but were at risk of being sent back to Greece. The firm argued that deporting them would lead to inadequate medical support and housing for them and for the disabled man, an individual deemed an especially vulnerable person, potentially resulting in a breach of his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
This intervention by the ECHR is a reminder of the vital importance of legal advocacy in protecting vulnerable individuals, work that Claudia & Partners continues to be proud of. A rare measure, perhaps the second time that one has been approved against Iceland underscores the seriousness of this case and an indication that Iceland’s asylum system has deteriorated when it comes to expelling vulnerable applicants of international protection back to the streets of Greece may not be in compliance with Convention standards. The decision sets a humanitarian precedent, reaffirming the ECHR’s commitment to upholding human dignity and rights and Iceland’s obligation to protect those rights, irrespective of the changed Icelandic political landscape which sees a hardline stance against immigration and applicants for international protection.
Photo credit: Gunnar Bjarki and screenshot from Visir.is