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ECHR orders Cyprus to pay €30,000 to Iranian national

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Cyprus to pay €30,000 in non-pecuniary damages for the unlawful detention and degrading treatment of an Iranian national. The Republic must also pay €4,124 in legal fees.

The case concerned his detention pending deportation for over 18 months in three Cypriot police stations.  According to the ECHR, Mustafa Haghilo, an Iranian national currently living in Armenia, entered Cyprus unlawfully in March 2011.

Shortly after, he was arrested at Larnaca airport when trying to take a flight to London on a forged passport and was placed in detention.

In April 2011, the Ministry of the Interior informed him of a decision to deport him because he was an illegal immigrant. From then, he was kept in holding facilities for immigration detainees at three different police stations.

He was released in October 2012 because he had not been deported within the 18-month time-limit under the relevant European Union directive, as transposed into domestic law.

He had previously been briefly released after a court hearing by the Supreme Court in December 2011 because it found that his detention had been unlawful as of October 2011, but was immediately rearrested when leaving the court and detained on the same grounds as the previous deportation orders against him.

Haghilo challenged the lawfulness of the new detention and deportation orders with the Supreme Court, but his recourse was dismissed in July 2012. The Supreme Court upheld that judgment in 2018 on appeal, noting that he had in the meantime left Cyprus for Armenia of his own free will and no longer had any legitimate interest in pursuing his appeal.

Relying in particular on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Haghilo complained that he had been held in inadequate conditions in facilities which had not been designed for prolonged detention.

Also relying, in particular, on Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security), he alleged that his detention from April 2011 to October 2012 had been unlawful and that he had not had an effective remedy at his disposal to challenge the lawfulness of his detention.

The ECHR ordered Cyprus to pay €30,000 for non-pecuniary damages and €4,124 for costs and expenses, for violation of Article 3 and Article 5 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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