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Dolores Utrilla
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24th March 2020
Employment & Immigration Human Rights

ECtHR judgment on alleged collective expulsions regarding Slovakia

Today, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has given its judgment in Asady and Others v. Slovakia (application no. 24917/15), ruling that Slovakian authorities did not subject Afghani nationals to collective expulsion when they returned them to Ukraine. The Chamber judgment, adopted by four votes to three and including three dissenting opinions, rejected the applicant’s claim that the prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens in Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention of Human Rights was breached.

Basing on its latest case law regarding Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 and, in particular, in the recent Grand Chamber judgment in N.D. and N.T. v. Spain, the ECtHR found that the expulsion was not collective in nature because the applicants’ removal to Ukraine was not carried out without any examination of their individual circumstances. In the ECtHR’s view, they had a genuine possibility to draw the authorities’ attention to any issue which could have affected their status and entitled them to remain in Slovakia. Indeed, the Slovak police conducted short individual interviews and subsequently issued individual decisions on the administrative expulsion of each applicant. In particular, the ECtHR noted that, according to the official transcripts, the applicants’ interviews lasted 10 minutes each and were conducted by two police officers in the presence of an interpreter.

The Strasbourg-based Court stressed that the Convention does not guarantee a right to an individual interview, but a right to present one’s arguments against expulsion in an effective manner. It also noted that the fact that some of the times of the interviews had overlapped was not in itself sufficient to find that the applicants had not had individual interviews. It also noted that no personal reasons to support requests for asylum were mentioned in the applicant’s conversations with their Ukrainian lawyer or in their expulsion appeals.

In their joint dissenting opinion, Judges Lemmens, Keller, and Schembri Orlanda expressed their disagreement with the majority’s finding that the prohibition of collective expulsions was not breached, and called for the ECtHR’s judgment in N.D. and N.T. v. Spain to be restricted to its proper context in order to avoid depriving the right secured by Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 of its very essence.

The judgment is available here.

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