European Court of Human Rights orders Greece to safeguard asylum seekers’ life and limb on Lesvos

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) indicated to the Government of Greece to protect the life and physical integrity of two vulnerable asylum seekers held in the new emergency facility in Kara Tepe set up on Lesvos following the destruction of the Moria camp in early September 2020.

The case of S.A. and O.A. v. Greece, brought by Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) lawyers, concerns two asylum seekers who had had their geographical restriction on Lesvos lifted due to their identification by the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) as vulnerable persons on 17 July 2020. Despite the prior decision of the Greek authorities to allow their transfer to appropriate conditions on the mainland, the applicants are still confined on the island in the aftermath of the Moria fires in dire conditions, following the Greek government’s announcement of a general prohibition on departures from Lesvos.

The ECtHR indicated interim measures under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court “take all necessary measures to safeguard the applicants’ life and limb in accordance with Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention, in view of the particular circumstances and the applicants’ vulnerability, as mentioned in the decision of 17 July 2020”.

Earlier this year, the Strasbourg Court had indicated interim measures to ensure the immediate transfer of several vulnerable individuals out of the RIC of Moria, on account of living conditions falling short of human rights.

RSA and PRO ASYL repeat the call to the Greek Government to secure the provision of sufficient food, water and appropriate shelter as well as necessary sanitary facilities and adequate access to healthcare for the thousands of refugees remaining on Lesvos, whose health and physical integrity is currently at risk on account of the current conditions in the Kara Tepe facility, and to ensure dignified reception conditions and immediate transfer of refugees to reception facilities on the mainland.

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