WM v Denmark: ECHR 14 Oct 1992

(Commission) The applicant lived in the German Democratic Republic (‘DDR’). He wished to move to the Federal Republic of Germany, but the DDR authorities refused him permission. At 1115 on 9 September 1988, together with 17 other DDR citizens, he entered the premises of the Danish embassy and requested negotiations with the DDR authorities, but at 0230 on 10 September the Danish Ambassador requested the DDR police to come into the Embassy to remove the applicant and the other DDR citizens. The applicant was then arrested by the DDR police. He and the other male members of the party were detained for 33 days and then released on ‘conditional imprisonment’, which subjected him to the risk of 18 months imprisonment if he failed to comply with the conditions set. The applicant complained that the conduct of the Danish Ambassador infringed his rights under Article 5 of the Convention. On the question of jurisdiction the Commission ruled: ‘The Commission notes that these complaints are directed mainly against Danish diplomatic authorities in the former DDR. It is clear, in this respect, from the constant jurisprudence of the Commission that authorised agents of a State, including diplomatic or consular agents, bring other persons or property within the jurisdiction of that State to the extent that they exercise authority over such persons or property. In so far as they affect such persons or property by their acts or omissions, the responsibility of the State is engaged. Therefore, in the present case the Commission is satisfied that the acts of the Danish ambassador complained of affected persons within the jurisdiction of the Danish authorities within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention.’
In relation to the claim under Article 5, the Commission observed that it was the DDR authorities, not the Danish diplomatic authorities, which were responsible for the applicant’s detention. The Commission continued:
‘The Commission recalls, however, that an act or omission of a Party to the Convention may exceptionally engage the responsibility of that State for acts of a State not party to the Convention where the person in question had suffered or risks suffering a flagrant denial of the guarantees and rights secured to him under the Convention. The Commission finds, however, that what happened to the applicant at the hands of the DDR authorities cannot in the circumstances be considered to be so exceptional as to engage the responsibility of Denmark.’
Unreported, 14 October 1992, (1992) 73 DR 193, 17392/90
European Convention on Human Rights 5
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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 23 October 2021; Ref: scu.220025