Complaint of asylum seekers for accommodation in tents in a camp parking lot and for lack of financial assistance! Unproven allegations. Non-violation of the ECHR

JUDGMENT

B.G. and others v. France 10.09.2020 (app. no. 63141/13)

see here 

SUMMARY

The case concerned the accommodation of asylum-seekers for several months in a tent camp set up
on a carpark in Metz and the question whether they had received the material and financial support
provided for by domestic law.

Applicants 1 to 12 had not maintained contact with their lawyer and had not provided any indication
of their whereabouts or how they could be reached. In those circumstances the Court found that
they had lost interest in the proceedings and no longer wished to pursue their application.

As regards applicants 13 to 17, the Court found that there was no specific material in the file
allowing it to make a concrete assessment of their living conditions in a tent camp on a carpark
located on Avenue de Blida in Metz, where they had lived from 29 June 2013 to 9 October 2013. The
Court further observed that the French authorities had taken measures which had brought about a
rapid improvement in their material living conditions, in particular ensuring medical care and
schooling for the children.

PROVISIONS

Article 3

Article  8

PRINCIPAL FACTS

The seventeen applicants, asylum-seekers, are members of four Albanian, Bosnian and Kosovar2
families, including minor children. They complained that they had been accommodated for several
months in a tent camp set up on a carpark in Metz, directly on the concrete ground, and that they
had not been provided with the material and financial support to which they were entitled under
domestic law.

In March 2013 a camp for around forty-five asylum-seekers was set up near the asylum-seekers’
reception platform in Metz. The camp was later dismantled by decision of the Moselle prefect. Due
to the saturation of accommodation facilities in the Moselle département, the prefect opened a
camp on 19 June 2013 on a former car park located on Avenue de Blida in Metz. According to the
applicants they lived there in tents placed on the concrete ground. The camp was dismantled and
closed on 15 November 2013.

Applicants 1 to 12 (see details in appendix to the judgment) are three families accompanied by their
children, who were aged between one and a half and nine years at the time. They are Albanian,
Bosnian and Kosovar nationals who entered France between 24 April and 29 June 2013 to apply for
asylum. The prefect refused to grant leave to remain to applicants 5 to 7, who were from Bosnia, as
their country was deemed to be safe, and registered the other asylum applications under the priority procedure. The applicants filed urgent applications for the protection of a fundamental freedom with the Administrative Court of Strasbourg. Those applications were rejected on the grounds that the precarity of which they complained was to be remedied promptly (applicants 1 to 4), that having
received a repatriation grant in July 2008 they had placed themselves in the impugned difficulties
(applicants 5 to 7), or that they had been summoned to the Moselle prefecture on 9 October 2013
for an examination of their situation (applicants 8 to 12).

The applicants lodged an appeal with the Conseil d’État (highest administrative court). The urgent
proceedings judge of that court dismissed their appeal on the grounds that their specific situation
had been examined when they had been received at the prefecture and that initial steps had been
taken in that regard.

Applicants 13 to 17 (see details in appendix) are a couple of Kosovar nationality and their three
children, aged 2, 9 and 11 at the time. On arrival in France on 29 June 2013 they reported to the
prefecture, which issued them with a summons for 10 September 2013 to submit their asylum
application files. Pending a permanent accommodation solution, they were placed on 29 June 2013
in the Avenue de Blida camp. On 3 September 2013 they filed an urgent application for the
protection of a fundamental freedom before the Administrative Court, requesting that the
authorities be ordered to provide them with accommodation, in accordance with national law. The
urgent proceedings judge dismissed the application for lack of urgency as their particular situation
had been examined when they had been received at the prefecture on 10 September 2013 and
preliminary measures had been taken for them. The urgent proceedings judge of the Conseil d’État,
rejected their appeal for the same reasons. On 21 November 2013 Mr Z. was granted a temporary
waiting allowance. His wife was granted this allowance from 12 November 2013. They both received
the allowance until they entered an Asylum-Seekers’ Reception Centre (CADA) on 29 January 2014.
In February 2014 the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA)
rejected the asylum-seekers’ applications, and the rejection was confirmed by the National Asylum
Court. Mr Z. applied for and obtained a residence permit on grounds of illness, valid from 7
September 2018 to 8 August 2019. His wife was provided with a residence permit receipt allowing
her to work, valid from 11 October 2018 to 10 April 2019, and she has been working part-time. Their
three children attend school.

All the applicants were found accommodation in council flats between 9 and 16 October 2013.

THE DECISION OF THE COURT…

Applicants 1 to 12 had not maintained contact with their lawyer and had not provided any indication
of their whereabouts or how they could be reached. In those circumstances the Court found that
they had lost interest in the proceedings and no longer wished to pursue their application. It was no
longer justified to continue examining the complaints in respect of those applicants.

Article 3

The Court noted that the Conseil d’État, before which the applicants had pleaded a breach of
Article 3, had examined their complaint in substance, taking into account the requirements in terms
of decent material conditions and respect for the right of asylum.

However, the parties’ accounts differed as to the living conditions in the camp, in particular as
regards hygiene and safety, and the facilities provided to the asylum-seekers.

The Court observed, first, that the applicants had merely indicated, in a general and unsubstantiated
manner, that they had lived in a tent on concrete ground without providing any precise information
enabling it to make a proper assessment of their living conditions with their children during the
three months and eleven days they had stayed on the site, in particular as regards the possibilities
for eating and washing. Secondly, the French authorities had not remained indifferent to the
applicants’ situation and their basic needs – housing, food and washing – had all been met.

Although the applicants had not received the waiting allowance until 12 and 21 November 2013, it
was not in dispute that they had received food aid in the form of vouchers between 29 June and 9
October 2013, the date of their departure from the camp. The children had been under medical
supervision and vaccinated and those who were then aged 9 and 11 had been able to attend school.

Lastly, accommodation in a permanent structure had been offered three months and eleven days
after their arrival in the camp, which was relatively quick.

In the light of all these factors, the Court found that the applicants’ living conditions had improved
rapidly and significantly. Moreover, during the period in question the applicants had not been left
without any prospect of seeing their situation improve. They had been summoned to the prefecture
on 10 September 2013 to file their asylum application. OFPRA had examined their application under
the fast-track procedure and had decided on their asylum application on 3 February 2014.
While it was true that the camp on Avenue de Blida, where the applicants had lived from 29 June to
3 October 2013, had been overcrowded, that its sanitary conditions had been unsatisfactory and
that it had become insalubrious over the weeks, the Court was not in a position to conclude that the
applicants had found themselves, during the relevant period, in a situation of material deprivation
that had reached the threshold of severity necessary to fall within the scope of Article 3.

There had thus been no violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

Article 8

The Court noted that the applicants had submitted a very general account of their living conditions
in the camp on Avenue de Blida without giving details about their own conditions.
The Court found, moreover, that the authorities had provided them with an accommodation
solution that was presented as temporary in the camp, before accommodating them on 9 October
2013 in a flat, three months and eleven days after they had arrived in the camp.
The applicants’ complaint was thus manifestly ill-founded and had to be rejected


ECHRCaseLaw

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