ECHR judgment of 07 December 2017 in the case of S.F. and Others v. Bulgaria (application No. 8138/16).
In 2012, the applicants were assisted in preparing the application. Subsequently, the application was communicated in Bulgaria.
In the case, the complaint on inhuman and degrading treatment of applicants who are underage immigrants, while they were held in the border police isolator, was successfully considered. There has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicants, three minor Iraqi nationals who fled the country together with their parents, were detained by police officers on the Bulgarian-Serbian border and imprisoned (like their parents) in the border police isolator in Vidin (Bulgaria). Later they were transferred to an immigration detention center in Sofia, and later they were granted asylum in Switzerland.
In the Court, the applicants submitted that the conditions of their detention in the city of Vidin constituted inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention.
ISSUES OF LAW
Concerning compliance with Article 3 of the Convention. Immigration detention of minors is of particular concern, since children, whether accompanied by adults or not, are an extremely vulnerable group with special needs.
The period in question lasted from 32 to 41 hours. This period was significantly shorter than the periods in the cases recently examined by the European Court in which the European Court examined the conditions under which adult accompanied minors were detained in immigration detention. However, the conditions in the border police isolator were significantly worse than those described in these cases. The cell in which the applicants were held, although relatively well ventilated and illuminated, was in extremely dilapidated condition. It was dirty, there were worn bunk bunks, mattresses and bedding, garbage and raw cardboard lay on the floor. The access to the toilet was limited, which forced them to urinate on the floor in the cell in which they were kept. The authorities allegedly did not provide them with food or drink for more than 24 hours after being taken into custody and the Government did not dispute the claim that the applicants' mother had received a bottle of water for children and milk for the younger applicant who was only a year and a half , approximately 19 hours after being taken into custody.
The combination of the above-mentioned factors should have significantly affected the applicants physically and psychologically and had particularly detrimental consequences for the younger applicant in view of his very young age. While it is true that in recent years, states located on the external borders of the European Union are struggling to cope with the large flow of migrants, it can not be argued that, during the period relevant to the circumstances, the Bulgarian authorities faced an emergency situation on such a scale that the authorities were deprived of the practical opportunity to provide minimum worthy conditions in institutions of temporary detention, in which they decided to place under-age migrants immediately after their arrest and arrest. In any event, in view of the absolute nature of Article 3 of the Convention, the increasing influx of migrants can not absolve the High Contracting Party from compliance with this provision of the Convention.
The violation of the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention (unanimously) was committed in the case.
In the application of Article 41 of the Convention. The Court awarded each applicant EUR 600 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.