Amuur v France: ECHR 25 Jun 1996

Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Preliminary objection rejected (victim); Violation of Art. 5-1; Non-pecuniary damage – finding of violation sufficient; Costs and expenses partial award – domestic proceedings; Costs and expenses partial award – Convention proceedings
‘In order to determine whether someone has been ‘deprived of his liberty’ within the meaning of Article 5, the starting point must be his concrete situation, and account must be taken of a whole range of criteria such as the type, duration, effects and manner of implementation of the measure in question. The difference between deprivation of and restriction upon liberty is merely one of degree or intensity, and not one of nature or substance. Holding aliens in the international zone does indeed involve a restriction upon liberty, but one which is not in every respect comparable to that which obtains in centres for the detention of aliens pending deportation. Such confinement, accompanied by suitable safeguards for the persons concerned, is acceptable only in order to enable States to prevent unlawful immigration while complying with their international obligations, particularly under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the European Convention on Human Rights. States’ legitimate concern to foil the increasingly frequent attempts to get round immigration restrictions must not deprive asylum seekers of the protection afforded by these Conventions. Such holding should not be prolonged excessively, otherwise there would be a risk of it turning a mere restriction on liberty-inevitable with a view to organising the practical details of the alien’s repatriation or, where he has requested asylum, while his application for leave to enter the territory for that purpose is considered-into a deprivation of liberty. In that connection account should be taken of the fact that the measure is applicable not to those who have committed criminal offences but to aliens who, often fearing for their lives, have fled from their own country. Although by the force of circumstances the decision to order holding must necessarily be taken by the administrative or police authorities, its prolongation requires speedy review by the courts, the traditional guardians of personal liberties. Above all, such confinement must not deprive the asylum seeker of the right to gain effective access to the procedure for determining refugee status’.
19776/92, (1996) 22 EHRR 533, [1996] ECHR 25
Bailii, Bailii
Cited by:
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Updated: 06 January 2021; Ref: scu.165423