Greece has been ordered to pay a failed asylum seeker from Gambia €10,000 by the European Court of Human Rights, after he successfully claimed that the Greek government had treated him in a degrading manner by placing him in a detention centre when he illegally entered the country.
According to the court ruling, Mr Khan Amadou arrived illegally in Greece in July 2010 and was arrested by border police on the same day. Days later, the chief of police in Orestiada ordered his he be detention for no more than six months while awaiting deportation, and he was transferred to Fylakio dentition centre, where he says he suffered “unacceptable” conditions, in particular “overcrowding poor hygiene conditions and a lack of natural light and exercise.”
Insisting that the conditions of his detention contravened Article 3 of the Convention on Human Rights, Mr Amadou attempted to challenging the detention and expulsion orders in court.
Instead, one month after his transferral the District Court sentenced Mr Amadou to three months’ imprisonment and to a fine of €1,500 for entering the country unlawfully, and he was transferred to Aspropyrgos detention centre.
At the detention centre, fully two months after arriving in the country, he lodged an application for asylum, which was subsequently turned down some two and a half years later. By that time he had been released from the detention centre, and was homeless, demanding that Greek social services provide him with housing and benefits.
Nearly four years later, it is not clear whether Mr Amadou has actually left Greece. What is known is that he maintained his claim that his human rights had been violated by his detention, taking his claim all the way to the court in Strasbourg.
A spokesman for the court commented: “Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Mr Amadou complained about his conditions of detention in the Fylakio and Aspropyrgos detention centres.
“He also complained that he had been left in a state of complete destitution following his release. Relying on Article 5 & 4 (right to a speedy decision on the lawfulness of detention), he alleged that the courts’ review of his detention had been ineffective and that, owing to a lack of information and assistance, he had been unable whilst in detention to apply to a court for a ruling on the lawfulness of his detention.”
The judges agreed, awarding him €10,000 in damages.