The Strasbourg Court found violations by Bulgarian authorities in another expulsion case

February 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Judgment by the European Court of Human Rights of 11 February 2010 on the case of Raza v. Bulgaria

There is an increasing number of cases, in which Bulgaria is condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for abuse of power in expulsion of foreigners from the country. This tendency, which was pointed out by LCRI and its partners at a press conference on 01 February 2010, is confirmed by the most recent judgment in Strasbourg.

The Pakistani citizen Ali Raza and the Bulgarian citizen Zoya Raza are married in Bulgaria since the year 2000. On 6 December 2005 the National Security Service at the Ministry of the Interior issued an order for expulsion against Mr. Raza and a ten-years ban to enter Bulgaria on the ground that he constituted a serious threat to the national security. The order did not state the factual reasons for reaching that conclusion. Mr. Raza was not served a copy of the order and he came to know about it only after his detention for expulsion. From 30 December 2005 till 15 July 2008 Mr. Raza was coercively accommodated’, firstly in the ‘Home for temporary accommodation of adults’ in the ‘Drujba’ neighbourhood in Sofia , and after the inauguration of the new center in the Busmanci neighbourhood, he was moved to the ‘Special home for temporary accommodation of foreigners’. Although the Sofia City Court issued a decision for Mr. Raza’s release in view of the protracted length of his detention, the Supreme Administrative Court repealed the decision of the Sofia court and ruled that the orders for ‘coercive accommodation’ were not subject to judicial control.

After the ‘coercive accommodation’ of Mr. Raza was substituted by an order for his daily appearance for signature at the local police station, in August 2008 he submitted an application before the State Agency for National Security to review his expulsion. However his application was rejected on the ground that the expulsion order was already in force.  His removal from Bulgaria is only temporarily halted for technical reasons – lack of documents for his re-entry into Pakistan.

At the beginning of 2008 the family turned for legal aid to the Legal Clinic for Refugees and Immigrants (LCRI), which – after exhausting all domestic remedies – helped them to make an application before the Strasbourg court (Application №31465 of 28 June 2008).

In its Judgment of 11 February 2010 the European Court of Human Rights unanimously held:

1) If Mr. Raza is expelled, this will constitute a violation of the right to respect for family life, enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

The Court reaches the conclusion that – as in the case of C.G. v. Bulgaria – Mr. Raza “did not enjoy the minimum degree of protection against arbitrariness on the part of the authorities” in issuing his expulsion order and the resulting interference with his family life was not in accordance with a “law” satisfying the requirements of the Convention (para.55 of the judgment);

2) There has been a violation of the right to an effective remedy, enshrined in Article 13 of the ECHR;

3) In relation to the ‘coercive accommodation’ of Mr. Raza:

– there has been a violation of the right to liberty under Article 5, Para. 1 of the ECHR

The Court reiterates that the immigration detention under Art.5, Para 1 „f” of the ECHR is lawful only if “action is being taken with a view to deportation”. In the case of Mr. Raza’s detention that continued for over two years and a half, the ‘coercive accommodation’ had ceased to serve its lawful purpose, because  the Bulgarian authorities failed to conduct the expulsion proceedings with due diligence – their actions were limited to sending three letters to the Consular section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for assistance.  Furthermore, the successful implementation of the more lenient measure of periodic appearance at the local police station after Mr. Raza’s release “shows that the authorities had at their disposal measures other than the applicant’s protracted detention to secure the enforcement of the order for his expulsion.” (paras.72-75 of the judgment)

– there has been a violation of the right to speedy judicial review of the detention according to Article 5, Para.4 of the ECHR.

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Congratulations to the attorney Diana Daskalova and the students from LCRI on their successful work on the case and Thank You to all human rights defenders who – also with their actions prior to this judgment – enhance the establishment of the rule of law in Bulgaria!

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