On Thursday November 16, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned Italy for the conditions under which Sudanese nationals were arrested and transferred after being left naked among other migrants. The ECHR was ruling in two cases brought by nine Sudanese who arrived by sea in the summer of 2016.
Regarding the complaints of the four applicants in the first case, the Court ruled unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (inhuman or degrading treatment). The Court found that the conditions of their arrest and transfer by coach had caused them distress and humiliation. It ordered Italy to pay them a total of 27,000 euros for non-pecuniary damage, and 4,000 euros for costs and expenses.
The migrants had been required to undress in order to undergo a medical examination after their arrest, but the ECHR ruled that this reason was not sufficiently compelling to justify leaving them naked among many other migrants, without the slightest privacy and under police surveillance.
They were also subjected to long bus transfers at a very hot time of year, without sufficient food and water, and without knowing where they were going or why. The Court stressed that they remained under constant police control, in a climate of violence and threats, which must have been a source of distress for them.
The Strasbourg-based Court also found a violation of Article 3 in relation to one of the Sudanese men who claimed to have been beaten during another attempt to remove him, and stressed that no investigation had yet been carried out into the case.
In judgments handed down on Thursday, however, the Court unanimously ruled inadmissible eight of the nine applications in which the applicants complained that the Italian authorities had failed to take into account the risk of inhuman treatment to which they would be exposed if returned to Sudan. The four applicants in the first case are no longer at risk of expulsion and four of the five in the second case have not sufficiently substantiated their claims, according to the Court.