[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights [official website] on Tuesday upheld [judgment, PDF, in French] a 2011 decision that countries must consider immigrants’ asylum cases individually. According to the facts of the case [press release], three Tunisian immigrants were detained by Italian authorities while trying to enter the country by boat. While detained the Tunisians claim that they faced degrading and inhuman treatment at the center in which they were held. The conditions at the center included sleeping on the floor, no doors separating toilets from showers and no contact with the outside world. After ten days of detention, the Tunisians were sent back to their home country as a group without individual consideration. In regards to the judgment in favor of the Tunisian citizens, “[t]he Court held that Italy was to pay each applicant 10,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and the applicants EUR 9,344.51, jointly, in respect of costs and expenses.”
Refugees from conflicts in Africa and the Middle East have generated a tremendous humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean with hundreds of deaths in recent months. In August the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported [JURIST report] that over 2,000 migrants have died this year in an attempt to enter Europe through the Mediterranean Sea. In June a British ship launched a mission [JURIST report] to rescue over 500 migrants stranded in the sea. In April top UN human rights officials and IOM issued a joint statement [JURIST report] calling on the EU to create a new rescue operation program for migrants attempting to traverse the Mediterranean and to commit to greater receipt of refugees. Also in April UN rights experts warned [JURIST report] the EU that repression of irregular migration cannot be the only solution to the recurrent grave problem of masses of people drowning at sea. In February a Spanish court accused 16 civil guards [JURIST report] of using excessive force against 15 sub-Saharan immigrants who drowned attempting to swim around a seawall between Ceuta and Morocco last February.