Violation of Article 3 during detention: ECHR rules against Bulgaria

In August 2015 the applicants, an Iraqi couple and their three sons, who had fled Iraq, tried to pass covertly through Bulgaria in order to seek international protection in Western Europe. They were however intercepted near the Bulgarian-Serbian border on 17 August and arrested because they had not entered the country lawfully. They were then kept in immigration detention in a short-term holding facility in Vidin pending their transfer on 19 August to a bigger immigration detention facility in Sofia. On 31 August 2015 they settled in an open facility for asylum-seekers. Shortly afterwards, they left this facility and made their way to Switzerland.Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention, the applicants complained in particular about the conditions in which the three minors – then aged 16, 11 and one and a half years – had been kept in the detention facility in Vidin. Submitting a video recording, the applicants alleged in particular that the cell in which they had been held had been extremely run-down, with dirty and worn out bunk beds, mattresses and bed linen as well as litter and damp cardboard on the floor; and that, as there had been no toilet in the cell, they had had to urinate on the floor. They also complained that the authorities had failed to provide them with food and drink for the first 24 hours of their custody and that the baby bottle and milk of the youngest child had been taken away upon their arrival at the facility and only given to the mother 19 hours later.

The full decision of the ECHR can be downloaded here.

Source: bordermonitoring