The Advice on Individual Rights in Europe, European Council on Refugees and Exiles and Amnesty International today welcomed a European Court of Human Rights’ judgement preventing the return of an asylum seeking family to Italy after making their way to Switzerland.

The organisations had intervened jointly with the assistance of lawyers from across Europe in the case of the Tarakhel family v Switzerland.

The Tarakhel family, an Afghan family with young children, made their way to Switzerland from Italy and claimed asylum there. The European Court of Human Rights held that returning the family to Italy without guarantees that they would benefit from appropriate conditions would violate human rights as enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights.

The Court ruled that returning the family to Italy would breach the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment, if this were done without Switzerland having first obtained specific individual guarantees that the Italian authorities would take charge of the applicants in a manner adapted to the age of the children and that the family would be kept together.

The ECHR reiterated that before returning people under the Dublin Regulation, States had to obtain individual guarantees that the fundamental rights of asylum seekers would be respected. The Court ruled that safety in another European member state could not be assumed.

It said that in view of the current situation regarding the reception system for asylum seekers in Italy, the possibility that a significant number of asylum seekers removed to that country may be left without accommodation or accommodated in overcrowded facilities without any privacy, or even in insalubrious or violent conditions, was not unfounded.

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