EU court faults France over asylum seekers sleeping rough

The EU’s rights court orders France to pay fines up to $13,970 to each of the three ‘victims of a degrading treatment’.

EU rights court
The EU rights court has ruled several times against France over its treatment of asylum seekers [File: Vincent Kessler/Reuters]

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that France violated the rights of three asylum seekers who lived for months on the streets with no means to meet basic needs such as food, housing and healthcare.

The Strasbourg-based court said on Thursday that the three people – an Afghan, a Russian and an Iranian – “have been victims of a degrading treatment reflecting a lack of respect for their dignity”.

France is “responsible for the conditions in which they lived for months in the street … with permanent fear of being attacked and robbed”, the court said in a statement, noting the “absence of adequate response” from authorities.

The court ordered France to pay fines ranging from 10,000 to 12,400 euros ($11,270 to $13,970) to each of the three people.

Iranian journalist

One of them, an Iranian journalist who was eventually granted refugee status, lived on the streets for nearly six months and was without resources for 133 days.

Another, an Afghan national who was ultimately granted humanitarian protection in France due to violence in his home region, slept under canal bridges for 262 days. 

The court rejected a claim by a fourth asylum seeker. While he had lived in a tent for at least nine months, he had been granted a subsistence allowance after 63 days. 

The EU rights court has ruled several times against France on its treatment of refugees, saying the country is in breach of Europe’s human rights convention forbidding inhuman or degrading treatment.

In February 2019, the court ordered France to pay 15,000 euros ($16,900) to an Afghan asylum seeker for failing to protect him when, as a 12 year old, he lived alone in a makeshift refugee camp in Calais, in northern France. 

Source: News Agencies