Case of A.D v. Greece: The European Court of Human Rights condemns Greece for violating human rights guaranteed by the Convention
Author: Anouk PINAUD
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
In a judgment rendered on 4 April 2023, the European Court of Human Rights found that Greece had violated Article 3 and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Before recalling the facts of the case, it is relevant to explain which human rights are protected under these articles. First of all, Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits torture and “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Therefore, by interpretation of the Court, States have positive obligations to enforce this right on their national territory. In other words, Stats must take the necessary measures and be active in protecting these rights. The Court, through its jurisprudence, has defined what should be considered torture or “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Indeed, the Court admits a certain degree between all these notions. Secondly, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to private and family life, home, and correspondence. These rights must necessarily be guaranteed in a democratic society. Thus, the role of the European Court of Human Rights is to monitor and guarantee the respect of these rights within the 46 States that have ratified it. In 1974, Greece ratified the European Convention of Human Rights.
On 4 April 2023, the Third Section of the European Court of Human Rights found a violation of articles 3 and 8 of the Convention and condemned Greece. In this case, A.D v. Greece (Application No.55363/19), the application concerns the living conditions of the applicant, a pregnant woman who arrived in Samos (Greece) in August 2019. The applicant resided at the Samos Reception and Identification Center (RIC). The woman complains about her living conditions during this period and raises in her application a violation of Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention. Indeed, the applicant states that she did not have access to adequate medical care and that the hygiene and living conditions in the tent were very precarious. The applicant stated that her particular needs as a pregnant woman had not been accommodated at the reception setting in the RIC.
The Greek State contests the admissibility of Article 3 of the Convention. However, the Court recalls that, despite the intensive flux of migrants or asylum seekers, States are not exempt from their obligations. The application of this article presupposes a certain level of severity which is removable depending on the case’s particular circumstances.
According to the Court, owing to the advanced stage of the pregnancy and the applicant’s long residence in the Samos RIC, the applicant should have sought specialized medical attention. Further, the third-party intervention confirmed the insufficient reception services (accommodation, medical assistance, etc…) as well as the overcrowding of the Samos camp. As a result, the Court ruled that Article 3 of the Convention had been violated because all of these circumstances exceeded the threshold of severity required to invoke Article 3.
In conclusion, this case illustrates the fact that human rights are not always guaranteed. However, it also sheds light on a more specific issue related to the rights of migrants and asylum seekers in European countries with external borders to the European Union.
Sources and further readings:
European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), Judgment, 4 April 2023, Case of A.D. v. Greece (Application no. 55363/19): https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-224188
Guide on Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Prohibition of torture, 31 August 2022: https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Guide_Art_3_ENG.pdf
Web site, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Article 3: Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights-act/article-3-freedom-torture-and-inhuman-or-degrading-treatment
Guide on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence, 31 August 2022: https://echr.coe.int/Documents/Guide_Art_8_ENG.pdf
Article Housing Rights Watch, A.D v. Greece (Complaint No. 55363/19), April 12, 2023: https://housingrightswatch.org/jurisprudence/ad-v-greece-complaint-no-5536319-4-april-2023