On 28 February, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in case Khan v. France (application no. 12267/16) that the failure of the French authorities to provide care for an unaccompanied minor in the Calais refugee camp was in breach of Article 3 of the Convention.

The Court found that the French authorities failed to fulfil the obligation of protection and care incumbent on the respondent State vis-à-vis an unaccompanied foreign child, an individual belonging to the category of the most vulnerable persons in society.

For several months the applicant had lived in the “lande de Calais” makeshift camp, in an environment completely unsuited to his status as a child and in a situation of insecurity rendered unacceptable by his young age. The Court held that the extremely negative circumstances prevailing in the makeshift camps reached the threshold of Article 3 severity and the failure to enforce the court order intended to secure protection for the applicant amounted to a violation of the respondent State’s obligations in that regard. Moreover, the authorities had never identified the applicant and his limited knowledge of French meant that he could not be expected to engage with the authorities on his own initiative.

Consequently, the Court deduced that on account of the failure of the French authorities to take the requisite action, the applicant had found himself in a situation tantamount to degrading treatment. The Court was not convinced that the authorities did all that was reasonably expected of them to fulfil their obligation to protect an unaccompanied minor in an irregular situation and it therefore ruled that the particularly serious circumstances and the failure of the French authorities to comply with the order to protect the applicant reached the threshold for a breach of Article 3.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.