On 26 March, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its judgment in the case Haghilo v. Cyprus (47920/12), regarding the detention pending deportation of an Iranian national, who had been detained for over 18 months in three police stations. 

Although the applicant did not challenge the first decisions ordering his deportation and detention, he subsequently lodged a claim arguing that his detention had been unlawfully lengthy. The Supreme Court found that the applicant’s detention after the expiry of a six-month time-limit was unlawful and ordered the applicant’s immediate release. However, he was subsequently detained upon leaving the courtroom on the basis of a new detention and deportation order issued on the same grounds. The applicant challenged the lawfulness of this order before the Supreme Court but eventually brought the case before the ECtHR after failing to succeed at both instances.

The Court ruled that the applicant’s detention had been unlawfully extended after the expiry of the six-month period. It found that the detention measure was not in accordance with domestic law and, therefore, violated Article 5 (1) ECHR. In the light of this conclusion, the Court did not find it necessary to examine the preceding period of the applicant’s detention or the remainder of the applicant’s complaints under this provision.

On the complaint under Article 3, the Court observed that the applicant had been held for a significant amount of time in detention, in police stations that were designed to accommodate people for a short time only. The buildings lacked the facilities necessary for the purposes of long detention, such as the possibility of outdoor activity. It particularly noted the specific material conditions of the detention under review, such as the lack of day light, fresh air and the small size of the cells in each station, which were detailed in reports provided by experts and the Ombudsperson. Referring to its case law, it held that the applicant was subjected to hardship beyond the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention and that it amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment prohibited by Article 3.