On the 22th of June 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in its judgment no. 1103/16. The case concerned the expulsion of a Belarusian national with a permanent residence permit in Poland. The authorities decided to expel him as his stay would constitute a threat to Poland’s national security as the applicant collaborated with the Belarusian secret services. No further reference was made to the factual elements of the case or any additional reasons. Moreover, the authorities classified certain documents as secret, which had been issued at the start of the proceedings, and therefore the applicant and his lawyer could not access those documents.
The Court found that in the present case the applicant was subjected to significant limitations in the exercise of his right to be informed of the factual elements underlying the expulsion decision and of his right to have access to the content of the documents and the information relied on by the authority which made that decision. The ECtHR noted that the need for such limitations was not examined and identified as duly justified by an independent authority, hence, the ECtHR was required to exercise strict scrutiny of the measures against the applicant in order to counterbalance the effects of the procedural limitations. The Court observed that the applicant only received general information about the accusations against him. Nor was he provided with any information about the possibility of accessing the documents in the file through a lawyer with the required security clearance. The applicant had already been expelled to Belarus making it very difficult for him to plead his case. Moreover, the fact that the final decision was taken by independent judicial authorities at a high level does not suffice to counterbalance the procedural limitations. The Court therefore held that, taking into account Poland’s margin of appreciation, the procedural limitations imposed on the applicant violated his enjoyment of his rights under Article 1 of Protocol No. 7.