Hungary ordered to pay damages to Iranian refugee

July 6, 2016

The European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has awarded damages to an Iranian refugee for being unlawfully kept in detention by Hungarian authorities.

The Iranian national – only referred to as O.M. – crossed the Hungarian border from Serbia clandestinely on the evening of 24 June 2014. Apprehended by a border guard patrol, he was taken into custody after being unable to produce documentary evidence of his identity or right to stay in the country. He then claimed asylum.

At the hearing held on 25 June 2014 by the Immigration Office, O.M. declared that he had fled from his country of origin, Iran, because of his homosexuality. He said he had been forced to leave Iran and, with the help of a human trafficker, had entered Hungary without documents because he had had no alternative.

Unlawfully detained

After a number of hearings, the asylum authority, a department of the Office of Immigration and Nationality, ordered that the applicant be detained. In its decision the authority observed that the applicant’s identity and nationality had not been clarified. It held that there were grounds for the presumption that if left at large, he would delay or frustrate the asylum proceedings and would present a risk of flight, given that he had arrived unlawfully in Hungary and had no connections in the country or resources to subsist on.

After months of detention, the authority terminated the detention. On 31 October 2014 the applicant was recognized as a refugee.

The man complained to the European Court of Human Rights that his detention was arbitrary and unjustified.

On Tuesday, the Court ruled that Hungary violated Article 5 § 1 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. It declared that Hungary is to pay EUR 7500 (USD 8300) in respect of non-pecuniary damage; and EUR 3395 (USD 3786) for the costs and expenses incurred before the court.