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Key Words Archives: Right to family life

S.F. and others v. Bulgaria, ECtHR, Application No. 8138/16, Judgment of 7 December 2017

The case concerns three Iraqi children who had fled Iraq accompanied by their parents, who were intercepted by the police at the Bulgarian-Serbian border and detained (with their parents) in a Border Police detention facility. The Court found that Bulgaria had violated Article 3 of the ECHR (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) by detaining the family in a police station for 32 to 41 hours where the conditions were unsuitable for children. The Court stated that immigration detention of minors, accompanied or not, raises particular problems, as the Court has recognized that children are extremely vulnerable and need specific care.

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R.R. and Others v. Hungary, ECtHR, Application no. 36037/17, Judgment of 2 March 2021

Keeping asylum-seeking family in the transit zone amounts to detention in breach of Articles 5(1) and 5(4). Significant case, as the Court finally joined the broad consensus regarding the nature of placement in the Hungarian transit zones, contrary to the findings in Ilias and Ahmed ECtHR GC judgement, where it concluded that transit zones are not detention. The Court also found that the conditions in the transit zone amounted to a violation of Article 3. It found that given the physical conditions of the containers in which the applicants were accommodated, the unsuitability of the facilities for children, the lack of professional psychological assistance and the duration of the stay in the transit zone, the threshold of severity required to engage Article 3 had been reached.

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General comment No. 5 (2021) of the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW) on migrants’ rights to liberty, freedom from arbitrary detention and their connection with other human rights (advanced unedited version)

The UN Committee in its General Comment understands as ‘alternatives to detention’ all community-based care measures or non-custodial accommodation solutions – in law, policy or practice – that are less restrictive than detention and which must be considered in the context of lawful detention decision procedures to ensure that detention is necessary and proportionate in all cases, with the aim of respecting the human rights and avoiding arbitrary detention of migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons.

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UN Human Rights Committee (CCPR), Nystrom v. Australia, Communication 1557/2007, Views of 18 July 2011

The UN Human Rights Committee recalled that although under article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) the detention of aliens residing unlawfully on the State Party’s territory is not per se arbitrary, remand in custody could be considered arbitrary if it is not necessary in all the circumstances of the case: the element of proportionality becomes relevant.

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