Judges ruled today that France’s failure to provide care for an unaccompanied migrant child, aged 12, in the “lande de Calais” shanty town breached human rights law.
In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Khan v. France (application no. 12267/16) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The applicant in case is Jamil Khan, an Afghan national, born in 2004, who now lives in Birmingham (United Kingdom).
As Just satisfaction (Article 41), the court held that France was to pay Khan 15,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
Khan’s complaint concerned the failure by the French authorities to provide an unaccompanied foreign minor with care before and after the dismantling of the makeshift camps set up in the southern section of the “lande de Calais” (“Calais heath”).
Large numbers of people hoping to seek asylum in the United Kingdom had for many years been living there in tents or huts, in overcrowded conditions without even the most basic sanitation.
The court was not convinced that the authorities had done all that could reasonably be expected of them to fulfil the obligation of protection and care incumbent on the respondent State vis-à-vis an unaccompanied foreign minor unlawfully present on French territory, that is to say an individual belonging to the category of the most vulnerable persons in society.
For several months the applicant had thus lived in the “lande de Calais” shanty town, in an environment completely unsuited to his status as a child and in a situation of insecurity rendered unacceptable by his young age.
The court held that the extremely negative circumstances prevailing in the makeshift camps and the failure to enforce the court order intended to secure protection for the applicant amounted to a violation of the respondent State’s obligations, and that the Article 3 severity threshold had been reached.
It deduced that on account of the failure of the French authorities to take the requisite action, the applicant had found himself in a situation tantamount to degrading treatment.