J.A. Carrillo Salcedo: Hirsi Jamaa v. Italy: Rights of immigrants in an irregular situation – Derechos de los inmigrantes en situación irregular

Opening Lecture of the ECJ Leading Cases Seminar, September the 27th 2012 at 12:00 Graduate Hall A, Faculty of Law, UNED (Obispo Trejo, Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid)

Conferencia inaugural del Seminario ECJ Leading Cases, 27 de Septiembre, 12:00, Salón de Grados A de la Facultad de Derecho de la UNED (c/ Obispo Trejo, 2, Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid)

Juan Antonio Carrillo Salcedo is Emeritus Professor of International Law and Former judge at the ECtHR). With occasion of his comments to the Hirsi Jamaa case he wil share with us his experiencies regarding Spain at the Council of Europe, and his work at the ECtHR.

El Profesor Juan Antonio Carrillo Salcedo es Catedrático Emérito de Derecho Internacional y antiguo magistrado del Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos. El ponente nos trasmitirá sus experiencias sobre España y el Consejo de Europa y su experiencia personal (Resumen de la conferencia) en la Comisión y en el Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos y comentará el caso Hirsi Jamaa.

 

Judgment summary:

“Irregular migrants and asylum seekers, between whom no distinction was made, had been systematically arrested and detained in conditions described as inhuman by observers, who reported cases of torture among others. Clandestine migrants had been at risk of being returned to their countries of origin at any time and, if they managed to regain their freedom, had been subjected to particularly precarious living conditions and exposed to racist acts. The Italian Government had maintained that Libya was a safe destination for migrants and that Libya complied with its international commitments as regards asylum and the protection of refugees. The Court observed that the existence of domestic laws and the ratification of international treaties guaranteeing respect for fundamental rights were not in themselves sufficient to ensure adequate protection against the risk of ill-treatment where reliable sources had reported practices contrary to the principles of the Convention. Furthermore, Italy could not evade its responsibility under the Convention by referring to its subsequent obligations arising out of bilateral agreements with Libya. The Court noted, further, that the Office of the UNHCR in Tripoli had never been recognised by the Libyan Government. That situation had been well-known and easy to verify at the relevant time. The Court therefore considered that when the applicants had been removed, the Italian authorities had known or should have known that they would be exposed to treatment in breach of the Convention. Furthermore, the fact the applicants had not expressly applied for asylum had not exempted Italy from its responsibility. The Court reiterated the obligations on States arising out of international refugee law, including the “non-refoulement principle” also enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The Court attached particular weight in this regard to a letter of 15 May 2009 from Mr Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission, in which he reiterated the importance of that principle.

The Court, considering that the fact that a large number of irregular immigrants in Libya had found themselves in the same situation as the applicants did not make the risk concerned any less individual, concluded that by transferring the applicants to Libya the Italian authorities had, in full knowledge of the facts, exposed them to treatment proscribed by the Convention. The Court thus concluded that there had been a violation of Article 3” (from the press release Press Release).

Resumen de la sentencia:

Un grupo de unas doscientas personas, somalíes y eritreos, salieron de Libia en mayo de 2009 a brdo  de  tres  embarcaciones  con  la  finalidad  de  llegar  a  las  costas  italianas.  Interceptados  por buques  de  vigilancia italianos, fueron obligados a subir a bordo y llevados inmediatamente a Trípoli donde fueron  entregados a las autoridades libias. Veinticuatro de las personas que integraban el grupo demandaron a Italia ante el Tribunal Europeo de  Derechos Humanos.  Alegaban que Italia habría violado el artículo 3 del Convenio al haberles expuesto al riesgo de sufrir tratamientos  inhumanos  o  degradantes  en  Libia  (o  en  Somalia  y  Eritrea  si  desde  Trípoli  fuesen expulsados a estos países de los que los demandantes eran nacionales); que igualmente Italia habría incumplido lo dispuesto en el artículo 4 del Protocolo adicional número 4, que prohíbe las expulsiones colectivas de extranjeros; finalmente, que al no haber dispuesto de un recurso efectivo para formular ante  autoridades  italianas  sus  alegaciones  de  violación  de  los  derechos  reconocidos  en  los  artículos antes  citados,  habrían  sido  victimas  de  violación  del  artículo  13  del  Convenio  combinado  con  los artículos 3 del Convenio y 4 del Protocolo adicional número  4. El Tribunal decidió que Italia era responsable de la violación de algunos de los derechos que las normas aplicables al caso reconocen a los demandantes, víctimas de dichas violaciones. ” (extracto de la conferencia del profesor Carrillo Salcedo).

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