In its decision in the case of X v. Germany (application no. 54646/17) the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the application inadmissible. The decision is final. Like the domestic courts, the European Court concluded that there were no substantial grounds for believing that the applicant, if deported to Moscow, would be exposed to a real risk of being subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights as he had no connection with the conflicts in the Northern Caucasus. In particular, the Court saw no reason to depart from the domestic courts’ decisions, which had carefully weighed all the evidence and had made a comprehensive assessment of the applicant’s case.
The applicant is a Russian national who was born in 1999 in Dagestan in the Northern Caucasus (Russia), and grew up in Germany.
In March 2017, the applicant’s deportation to Russia was ordered by the German authorities, as he was suspected of being willing to participate in or carry out a terrorist attack in Germany and was therefore considered to constitute a threat to national security. He was placed in detention pending deportation.
In July 2017 the domestic courts rejected the applicant’s requests to suspend his removal. In particular, in interim proceedings the Federal Administrative Court came to the conclusion that, even if there was a risk of torture and ill-treatment in the region of Dagestan, where the applicant was born, there was no such risk in other parts of Russia and he could therefore be deported there. It based this finding on information provided by a local Russian NGO, “Committee against Torture”, according to which the applicant would probably be questioned and monitored by security agencies in Russia, but it was highly unlikely that he would be tortured. It found that other publicly available reports concerning those who were either directly connected to the conflicts in the Northern Caucasus or their relatives were not applicable to the applicant, who had left Dagestan when he was three years old. This assessment was confirmed soon after by the Federal Constitutional Court.
The main proceedings before the Federal Administrative Court are still pending.
Also in July 2017, the European Court of Human Rights applied an interim measure following a request by the applicant, indicating to the German Government that he should not be removed pending the receipt of further information. This interim measure was lifted in August 2017.
Complaints, procedure and composition of the Court
The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 30 July 2017.
Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment), the applicant complained, in particular, that his removal to Russia would expose him to the risk of being tortured, placed under surveillance, detained or subjected to a forced disappearance. Relying on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), he also complained that he would be torn from his family and the country in which he has lived for the past 15 years. Lastly, he alleged under Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) that the domestic courts had not sufficiently assessed the situation in which he would find himself if he were deported to Russia.
The decision was given by a Chamber of seven, composed as follows:
- Erik Møse (Norway), President,
- Angelika Nußberger (Germany),
- Nona Tsotsoria (Georgia),
- André Potocki (France),
- Yonko Grozev (Bulgaria),
- Síofra O’Leary (Ireland),
- Mārtiņš Mits (Latvia), Judges,
- and also Milan Blaško, Deputy Section Registrar.
Decision of the Court
Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment)
Bearing in mind the careful weighing of evidence and comprehensive assessment by the domestic courts of the applicant’s case, the Court concluded that there were no substantial grounds for believing that the applicant, if deported to Moscow, would be exposed to a real risk of being subjected to torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.
Like the domestic courts, the Court observed that the available reports concerned either those directly connected to the conflicts in the Northern Caucasus or those who had relatives directly connected. However, the applicant had no connection with those conflicts as he had left Dagestan when he was three years old.
The Court also assessed new information from another NGO, Memorial, which was not available during the domestic proceedings. The new information contradicted the report by “Committee against Torture” relied on by the courts during the domestic proceedings: the report stated that there was a highly increased risk that the applicant would become a victim of prosecution and torture if deported.
The Court considered that, although both NGOs were equally credible, neither of them had referred to previous similar deportations in order to substantiate their assumptions. Therefore it saw no reason to depart from the decisions of the domestic courts as concerned the risk of ill-treatment, and found that that part of the applicant’s complaint had to be rejected as manifestly ill-founded.
Article 13 (right to an effective remedy)
The Court had already considered the complaint that the domestic courts’ assessment had not been thorough enough under Article 3. That complaint was therefore also rejected as manifestly illfounded.
Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life)
Given that the main proceedings raising issues under Article 8 are still pending before the Federal Administrative Court, the Court found that that complaint had to be rejected for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.
Pressemitteilung des EGMR Nr. 370 v. 30.11.2017 zur Entsch. v. 30.11.2017 – X v. Germany (application no. )