Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy
European Court of Human Rights
Application no. 27765/09, Eur. Ct. H.R. 10 (2012)
In 2009 the Italian Coast Guard interdicted multiple boats on the Mediterranean Sea carrying refugees from Somalia and Eritrea, including Hirsi Jamaa and others (plaintiffs). The Coast Guard forced the refugees to board the Italian ships and took them back to Libya. The refugees alleged that they requested asylum in Italy (defendant); however, their personal circumstances were not assessed. Libya had not ratified the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees (the refugee convention). Libya did not have laws regarding asylum and did not comply with rules regarding the safeguarding of refugees. Any person who crossed into Libya illegally was arrested and held in inhumane conditions regardless of whether the person had entered to seek asylum. Refugees were also at risk of refoulement. Jamaa and the other plaintiffs filed suit alleging a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the convention), to which Italy was a party, which required state parties to guarantee the convention’s protections to all persons within their jurisdiction. Jamaa also alleged a violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 4, which prohibited the collective expulsion of foreign nationals. Italy argued that the refugees were not within their jurisdiction, having been interdicted at sea, which Italy characterized as a rescue, and that Italy had not manifested absolute exclusive control over the refugees. Italy argued that the protocol did not apply, because the refugees were denied access rather than expelled.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
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