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M.S.S. v Greece. Application no. 30696/09. Committee of Ministers of CoE

Date 1 March, 2024
Category Legal Submissions

In the case of M.S.S. v. Greece, the applicant, an Afghan national, challenged the asylum conditions in Greece, alleging violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court found Greece in breach of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) by detaining the applicant in inadequate conditions. The Court considered the conditions of detention, including overcrowding and lack of basic necessities, to be unacceptable and degrading, particularly in view of the vulnerability of people on the move. The case is under enhanced supervision by the Committee of Ministers which is currently waiting for the Greek Government’s Response to the last decision adopted at the 1475th meeting on 21 September 2023.

As BVMN evidences in this submission, in contrast to the claims made by the Greek government in its Communication from June 20, 2023 to the Committee concerning the case of M.S.S. / Rahimi v. Greece, immigration detention centres are neither suitable for detention of people on the move nor are the conditions in either reception and immigration detention facilities of adequate capacity. Moreover, physical violence against people on the move in Greek immigration detention and reception facilities has reached alarming levels. From the use of isolation tactics to conceal abuse to reports of violence within quarantine zones, the data reveals a systemic pattern of mistreatment. Verbal abuse further exacerbates the trauma, indicating a deliberate strategy to intimidate and control individuals on the move, potentially violating international legal standards.

Testimonies reveal persistent issues of unclean facilities, shortages of essential resources, and deficiencies in healthcare provision, highlighting the urgent need for systemic reform and adherence to international human rights standards. Unlike claimed by the Greek Government in its Communication from June 20, 2023, overcrowding continues to be a problem in PRDCs on the mainland and Samos CCAC.In the light of these systematic and widespread deficiencies and human rights violations that continue to persist in detention and reception facilities in Greece, BVMN calls on the Committee of Ministers to:

  • retain the case under enhanced supervision;
  • urge the Greek government to take proactive measures to protect people on the move in detention and reception centres, to ensure their well-being, and to address impunity in cases of violence against them through effective accountability measures and independent monitoring systems;
  • closely monitor Greece’s response to chronic deficiencies in material provisions, sanitary conditions, and healthcare in CCACs and PRDCs, and call upon Greece to urgently enhance these conditions nationwide; and
  • urge Greece to eliminate systematic detention of people on the move, and to seek alternatives to detention.