Court backs Sweden in Iraqi deportation disputes

Judges have ruled that the deportation from Sweden of Iraqi failed asylum-seekers would not breach their human rights.

In today’s chamber judgments in the cases of A.G.A.M., D.N.M., M.K.N., M.Y.H. and Others, N.A.N.S., N.M.B., N.M.Y. and Others and S.A. v. Sweden (application nos. 71680/10, 28379/11, 72413/10, 50859/10, 68411/10, 68335/10, 72686/10 and 66523/10), which are not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, by five votes to two, that:

the applicants’ deportation to Iraq would not be in violation of Article 2 (right to life) and/or Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

All eight cases concerned the deportation of failed asylum-seekers, originally from Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk, to Iraq. The two applicants in the cases D.N.M. and S.A. alleged in particular that, if deported to Iraq, they would be at risk of being the victims of an honour-related crime following their relationships with women which had met with their families’ disapproval.

The applicants in the other six cases alleged that, if deported to Iraq, they would be at risk of persecution on account of their being Christians, a religious minority in the country.

The court found in particular that, if removed to Iraq, the applicants would not be at risk as a result of the general situation in the country which was slowly improving. Furthermore, although there was evidence to show that the applicants’ personal circumstances (cases D.N.M. and S.A.) and their belonging to a vulnerable minority (the other six cases) would expose them to a real risk to their lives and/or of inhuman or degrading treatment if removed, the court held that all ten applicants could reasonably relocate to other regions in Iraq such as Kurdistan in the north (in the six cases concerning Iraqi Christians) or to southern and central Iraq.

Continuation of interim measures

The court also, decided to continue its indication to the Swedish Government, made under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court (in all eight cases except D.N.M.), that the applicants should not be removed until these judgments became final or until further decision.

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