ICJ and others challenge Hungary’s removals to Serbia before European Court of Human Rights

The ICJ and other organizations have intervened today before the European Court of Human Rights challenging expulsions of asylum seekers from Hungary to Serbia.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and the Dutch Council for Refugees have submitted today a third party intervention before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary.

The case challenges the systematic practice by the Hungarian authorities to send back to Serbia foreign nationals asking for asylum under the pretention that Serbia is a safe third country in which to ask for international protection.

The intervening organizations have argued before the Court that:

  • a removal that exposes an applicant to the risk of refoulement and deprives them of protections under international and EU law, is prohibited regardless of whether the decision was taken on the basis of the safe third country concept or the country was included in a “safe third country” list.
  • International law requires, inter alia, a rigorous scrutiny of the applicant’s arguable claim of potential prohibited treatment, access to an effective remedy following a negative decision, and access to the rights under the 1951 Refugee Convention.
  • Application of the safe third country concept for EU Member States is contingent on the applicant being admitted to the territory and having effective access to a fair asylum procedure in the safe third country
  • An assessment of whether restrictions on the freedom of movement of migrants, imposed in a border or international zone, amount to deprivation of liberty under Article 5 ECHR must be based on the impact of these measures on the individuals concerned.

Hungary-ECtHR-amicusbrief-cases-Ilias&Ahmed-ICJ&others-2018-ENG (download the third party intervention)


Ilias Ilias and Ali Ahmed, both Bangladeshi nationals, fled their home country in arrived at the Hungarian-Serbian border on 15 September 2015 after having briefly crossed through Serbia during their trip.

Having asked immediately for asylum in Hungary, they were confined for days in a transit zone, a ” a confined area of some 110 square metres, part of the transit zone, surrounded by fence and guarded by officers”.

Their applications were rejected on the very same day of their application on the grounds that they could have asked for asylum in Serbia, considered by Hungary a safe third country, and appeals were rejected.

They were removed to Serbia on 8 October 2015.

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