On the 18th of April 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in its judgment N.M. v. Belgium, no. 43966/19. The case concerned the detention of an Algerian national for 31 months in a closed centre for aliens pending his removal from Belgium on grounds of a risk to public order and national security, the review of the lawfulness of that measure, and the applicant’s conditions of detention in the Vottem (Liège) closed centre.

In assessing the aim and lawfulness of the detention, the ECtHR found that the authorities consistently sought the applicant’s removal, the public order and security concerns weighed heavily, and the detention was in accordance with the law. The Court acknowledged the lengthy duration of detention but highlighted that Belgium acted with the requisite diligence during the expulsion procedure, the applicant’s asylum application was complex, the applicant posed a danger to national security and public order. The ECtHR therefore concluded that Article 5 § 1 (f) ECHR was not breached.

The ECtHR then ruled that the authorities’ detention review did not breach Article 5 § 4 because the authorities systematically verified that the detention was aimed at the applicant’s expulsion; they acted with due diligence in this respect; the threat posed by the applicant had been established and that the asylum procedure was ongoing. Furthermore, none of the judicial decisions had found the detention to be unlawful.

Lastly, the ECtHR held that the applicant’s detention in partial isolation did not violated Article 3 because his detention was reassessed based on his background and conduct. He had radical views and contacts with persons connected to terrorism and he was classified as a terrorist and extremist threat. Additionally, the Court noted that the applicant showed anti-social behaviour and engaged in the recruitment of other residents, while highlighting that the partial isolation did not adversely affect the applicant’s health.

Based on an unofficial translation of within the ELENA team