View Adopted: 2019.11.19
The authors are a Syrian family of Kurdish ethnicity who never obtained Syrian nationality, who fled to Austria and filed for refugee status owing to a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin.
As part of this travel, the authors transitted through Bulgaria where they were arrested and brought to a detention facility. The mother of the family also suffered from a bad state of mental health. The authors noted ill-treatment in the Bulgarian detention facility, and argued that they did not recieve adequate food and the father was forced to clean the floor.
Following their asylum claim being denied, the authors applied for asylum in Hungary on 7 September 2016 and later in Austria on 24 September 2016. These claims were denied, and the authors were subsequently removed to Bulgaria in March 2017. As asylum was denied here also, the authors were tranferred from Bulgaria to Iraq in November 2017, where they currently reside.
The authors claim that their removal to Bulgaria amounted to a violation of Article 7 of the Covenant. At the time, the UNHCR had advocated for the halting of transfers of asylum seekers to Bulgaria because of a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment due to systemic deficiencies in the reception conditions.
The majority of the Human Rights Committee found that the authors failed to substantiate their claim to the extent required by Article 7 of the Covenant. On this basis, the Committee found the communication inadmissible under Article 2 of the Optional Protocol.
Committee member Gentian Zyberi (dissenting) did not agree with the majority on the basis of three failures in the Austrian processing of the case. Namely, the failure to take into account the mother's health conditions, failure to consider the best interests of the five children, and the failure to comply with interim measures issued by the Committee in February 2017.
On this basis, member Gentian Zyberi found that the removal to Bulgaria amounted to a violation of article 7.