Skip to Navigation

European court demands halt to forcible return of Iraqi asylum seekers

Summary: 
05 Nov 2010: The Guardian reports that the European Court of Human Rights has demanded a halt to the forcible return of Iraqi asylum seekers.

European court demands halt to forcible return of Iraqi asylum seekers

The Guardian has reported that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has demanded the halt to forcible return of Iraqi asylum seekers.

The Guardian quotes a ECHR letter, sent initially to the Dutch government, as saying: "This decision [to suspend deportations] has been taken in view of the increasing number of rule 39 requests made by applicants seeking to prevent their return to Baghdad on single or joint charter flights, and the reported recent deterioration in the security situation in Baghdad and the other governorates. Due note was also taken of UNHCR's continuing concern as to the safety of returning Iraqi citizens to Baghdad and certain other governorates."

The ECHR advice is said to call for a freeze on deportations until 24 November, pending further legal considerations. The letter calls for submissions about the safety of future returns.

The Guardian reports that the Home Office pledged to "continue to undertake" deportations but acknowledged that in cases where the Strasbourg court supported petitions from individuals it would not enforce removal.

The full Guardian article is available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/05/strasbourg-forcible-returns-iraqi-asylum

The Netherlands-based International Network of Local Initiatives with Asylumseekers (INLIA) - http://www.inlia.nl/ - published a copy of the ECHR letter. The letter in full is reproduced below:

EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
COUR EUROPÉENNE DES DROITS DE L'HOMME

Mr Roeland BOCKER
Agent for the Government of the Netherlands
Ministry for Foreign Affairs (DJZ/IR)
Postbus 20061
NL - 2500 EB DEN HAAG

THIRD SECTION

ECHR-LEO.lG bis
PHA

22 October 2010

BY E-TRANSMISSION

Dear Sir,

I write to inform you that the President of the Third Section of the Court, following consultations with the Presidents of other Sections of the Court, considers that it is appropriate to apply Rule 39 in respect of any Iraqi who challenges his or her return from the Netherlands to Baghdad.

This decision has been taken in view of the increasing number of Rule 39 requests made by applicants seeking to prevent their return to Baghdad on single or joint charter flights from European countries and the reported recent deterioration in the security situation in Baghdad and other governorates. Due note was taken of the UNHCR's continuing concern as to the safety of returning Iraqi citizens to Baghdad and certain other governorates of Iraq.

The President of the Third Section has instructed me to request your Government to assist the Court on the above matter by providing any relevant objective information that they have on safety of return by 29 October 2010.

The matter will be reconsidered by the Court at the earliest opportunity in the light of the information received.

Yours faithfully,

S. Quesada
Section Registrar

Radio Netherlands published the following article on November 3rd:

Dutch call off Iraq deportations

Published on 3 November 2010 - 3:05pm

The European Court of Human Rights has blocked the planned deportation from the Netherlands of a group of failed Iraqi asylum seekers, due to take place today. The ECHR ruled that forced deportations to Iraq are banned until 24 November. Dutch Justice Minister Gerd Leers has decided to abide by the ruling.

As a result about 15 failed asylum seekers will be not be leaving for Iraq on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Mr Leers was still insisting they would be deported, saying that even though the situation in Iraq did give cause for concern there was no proof the security situation had deteriorated over the past six months.

Wonders

Parliament on Tuesday afternoon only narrowly rejected a proposal by Christian Union MP Joël Voordewind to suspend the deportations until after the ECHR handed down its ruling. Mr Voordewind says he is relieved the deportations have now been cancelled: "Wonders will never cease". He points out that as recently as Tuesday, 100 people were killed in a series of attacks in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Since the end of 2008 asylum seekers from Iraq have not been automatically granted refugees status here in the Netherlands, with applications for residence here now assessed on a case-by-case basis. However, some vulnerable groups, such as Christians, Palestinians and Jews, have a greater chance of being granted asylum. Members of these groups are exempt from the need to prove they have fallen victim to human rights violations. Intellectuals, journalists and other people in dangerous professions also fall in this category.

'Legitimate targets'

An al-Qaeda group in Iraq has announced that Christians are again legitimate targets. The Islamic State in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the hostage taking of worshippers at a church in Baghdad. Their liberation on Sunday ended in the deaths of 53 people.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

(End)