It is an expected decision that the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rendered on Wednesday September 14, 2022. Two French families had been requesting for several years the repatriation of their children and grandchildren detained in camps in northeast Syria. They argued in particular before the European Court of Human Rights that this refusal exposed their relatives to “inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights”. “France has violated the rights of French children detained in Syria by failing to repatriate them”, already reported the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in February 2022 concerning the refusals to repatriate children from Syria. Last July, France carried out its first mass repatriation bringing 35 minors and 16 mothers back to the territory.
It is in this context that the ECHR concluded on Wednesday 14 September that the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights had been violated. The Court thus considered “that it is incumbent on the French government to resume the examination of the applicants’ requests as soon as possible by surrounding it with appropriate guarantees against arbitrariness”. For the European Court, “The rejection of a request for return [sur le territoire français] must be subject to individual examination”. It justifies this position in particular with regard to the exceptional circumstances which “endanger the physical integrity and the life of the nationals detained in the camps, in particular those of the children”. These particular circumstances are, according to the judgment of the Court, “such as to trigger the obligation to surround the decision-making process with appropriate safeguards against arbitrariness”.
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