On the 4th of May 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in its judgment A.C. and M.C., 4289/21. The case concerned the pre-removal detention of two asylum applicants, a mother and her minor child of seven-and-a-half-months old, in France with the view to transfer to Spain. The applicants were placed in a detention centre for 48 hours which was then extended by domestic courts for 28 days. The authorities, however, released the applicants in nine days.

The ECtHR first ruled that France subjected the child to a treatment that exceeded the threshold of severity required by Article 3 ECHR taking in consideration the very young age of the applicant, the conditions of the detention centre and the duration of his detention. In view of the inseparable bound between the mother and baby and their shared emotions, the Court held that France also breached Article 3 in relation to the mother.

The Court then ruled that France violated Article 5 §1 and §4 ECHR. The Court acknowledged that the authorities considered less restrictive measures in their initial detention decision, however, it ruled the authorities did not sufficiently verify whether the extension of detention in order to facilitate the child’s departure was a measure of last resort for which no less restrictive measure were available. Moreover, the Court held that the domestic courts have the duty to ensure the legality of the detention however it found that the child did not benefit from a review defined under Article 5 § 4 to assess the lawfulness of the prolonged detention.

Based on an unofficial translation from within the EWLU team