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case of M.A. and Others v. Lithuania (app no. 59793/17)

whether the applicants had actually submitted asylum applications at the border - the Court was satisfied that the applicants had submitted asylum applications, either orally or in writing, at the Lithuanian border on 16 April, 11 May and 22 May 2017. However, border guards had not accepted those applications and had not forwarded them to a competent authority for examination and status determination, as required by domestic law. Furthermore, border guards’ reports to their senior officers had not made any mention of the applicants’ wish to seek asylum on any of the three occasions – there were no references to the writing of “azul” on the decisions, nor to the written asylum application. There was also no indication either in those reports or in any other documents submitted to the Court that the border guards had attempted to clarify what was the reason – if not seeking asylum – for the applicants’ presence at the border without valid travel documents. Nor did it appear that there had been any assessment at all of whether it had been safe to return the applicants – a family with five very young children – to Belarus, which was not a Contracting Party to the European Convention on Human Rights and, according to publicly available information, could not be assumed to be a safe third country for Chechen asylum-seekers. As a result, the applicants had been returned to Belarus without there being any assessment of their asylum claims. It was therefore evident that measures which the Government had claimed constituted adequate safeguards against the arbitrary removal of asylum-seekers – such as the supervision of border guards by superior officers or the monitoring of borders by non-governmental organisations – had not been effective in the applicants’ case. Conclusion: violation (four votes to three).

11 December 2018 | Judicial Body: Council of Europe: European Court of Human Rights | Document type: Case Law | Legal Instrument: 1950 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) | Topic(s): Rejection at border | Countries: Lithuania - Russian Federation

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